Green spaces make bigger babies


Not great news for mothers-to-be who live in cement-enroaching cities like Beirut: according to a new study pregnant women living near green urban spaces will deliver babies with higher birth weights. Time to start planting trees?

The new research from Israel and Spain entitled “Green Spaces and Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes” was published in the journal, Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The team of researchers including those from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev looked at 40,000 live birth records in Tel Aviv, Israel to determine how green space can influence birth and babies: “We found that that overall, an increase of surrounding greenery near the home was associated with a significant increase of birth weight and decreased risk for low birth weight,” says Prof. Michael Friger, of BGU’s Department of Public Health.

“This was the first study outside of the United States and Europe demonstrating associations between greenery and birth weight, as well as the first to report the association with low birth weight.”

An analysis of neighborhood socioeconomics also revealed that the lowest birth weight occurred in the most economically deprived areas with lack of access to green spaces.

What are green spaces? They are parks, community gardens or even cemeteries – places defined as land that is partly or completely covered with grass, trees, shrubs, or other vegetation.

“The application of remote sensing data on surrounding green areas enabled our study to take small-scale green spaces (eg, street trees and green verges) into account, while the OpenStreetMap data determined the major green spaces,” Friger explains.

The Israel Environment and Health Fund supported the study.

Now all you pregnant green girls out there. Go outside and hug a tree. With your hands, or mind.

Image of pregnant woman from Shutterstock

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