SEOUL, Nov. 5 (Korea Bizwire) – The results of a recent study suggest that climate change is not only responsible for causing natural disasters, but also for lowering the birth rate and increasing the number of low birth-weight infants.
A research team at the University of Utah reported the results of their analysis on 70,000 cases of childbirth in 19 African countries linked with data on rainfall and climate. The report suggests that the number of low birth-weight infants increases if the amount of rainfall drops and the number of days with higher temperatures increases during the period of pregnancy.
The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the largest non-profit private economic research center in the U.S., announced that it had discovered that days hotter than a certain temperature lowered the ‘heat’ within a couples’ bedroom, leading to lower birth rates.
The results suggest that climate change can significantly influence the health of mankind as a whole and global population issues in the long run.
The research team at the University of Utah analyzed 70,000 cases of childbirth from 1986 to 2010 in 19 African countries, linking them with data on rainfall, temperature, maternal education levels and the usage of electricity.
The results showed that if the number of days that exceeded 100℉ (37.8℃) increased during pregnancy, the child was more likely to weigh less when it was born. Babies tended to be 0.9g lighter for each day over 100℉. On the other hand, if it rains a lot during a pregnancy, the infant’s weight tends to increase. A 10mm increase of average rainfall led to a 0.3g-0.5g increase in weight among newborns. However, according to recent research from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), rainfall in Africa is dropping.
Officials explained the negative effects of low birth-weight infants. “The WHO classifies babies that are under 2.5kg when they are born as low birth-weight infants. They are weaker against diseases and have a higher mortality. They also have a higher chance of developing disabilities, and have lower levels of education and income compared to children born within the average weight range.”
The research team at NBER analyzed the birthrate and climate change in the U.S. from 1931 to 2010. The results showed that the frequency of a couple having intercourse was lowered when the temperature was over 80℉ (26.7℃), dropping the birthrate 8 to 10 months later. This means that a hot day over 80℉ (26.7℃) will drop the birthrate 9 months later by 0.4 percent (1,165 births within America) compared to a day with temperatures between 60-70℉.
Extrapolating these results to climate change projections, in 2070 to 2099, 64 more days will be hotter than 80℉ compared to the 31 days in 1990 to 2002. This will lead to a 2.6 percent drop in birthrates, and a decrease of an average of 107,000 births a year.
Researchers add that the negative influence of lower birthrates will be great, and that the influence of climate change will have more of an impact on developing countries.
By Francine Jung (firstname.lastname@example.org)