Can Extreme Heat Harm Your Pregnancy?

A group of matches with one earth in the middle

Can Extreme Heat Exposure Harm Your Pregnancy?

The short answer is yes.

The earth is getting warmer, and everybody should be concerned, including pregnant women. According to a published study by The Journal of American Heart Association (JAHA), climate change does affect reproductive health and specifically, pregnant women.

Here are the facts:

Is temperature in the U.S. expected to increase?

Yes, at least through 2030, according to the study

Is Global Warming or Climate Change Dangerous for Pregnant Women?

Yes, because it increases their risk of having babies with birth defects, especially babies born with congenital heart disease (CHD).

How does global warming cause birth defects?

The extreme heat causes fetal cell death or interferes with protein synthesis, a process which is essential for the development of organs during early pregnancy. This interference can cause severe fetal malformations according to the JAHA study.

When is the most dangerous time of pregnancy to be exposure to extreme heat?

Weeks 3 through 8 of the first trimester are associated with the greatest risk of developing birth malformations.

What areas of the United States will be affected the most?

All of the following states will be affected listed in ranking order from the greatest to the least:

Iowa, New York, Arkansas, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Utah and California.

 How can pregnant women protect themselves?

  • All pregnant women should refrain from prolonged periods in the sun or exposure to heat during their first trimester. All women of reproductive age who are trying to conceive should do so as well.
  • The US Census Bureau has estimated a 5.0% increase in  births through 2030 which means approximately 4.2 million women and their unborn babies could be affected.
  • Global warming is not a figment of the imagination and affects all of us, including our most vulnerable citizens – babies.
  • If you found this information helpful, please like and share. What we don’t know can hurt us and what we do know can save us.



Follow Dr. Linda on Facebook | Order your copy of The Smart Mother’s Guide to a Better Pregnancy: How to Minimize Risks, Avoid Complications, and Have a Healthy Baby | Dr. Linda is a board certified Ob/Gyn and an expert in the area of pre-eclampsia and high-risk pregnancies. Contact Dr. Linda about an appearance at your next event or media placement opportunities.

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