The fetuses of women working in fields in extreme heat can show signs of strain before their mothers are affected, new research has shown.
The study, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), involved 92 pregnant subsistence farmers in The Gambia, and is claimed to be the first to measure impacts of heat stress on the foetuses of manual workers.
The research, published in The Lancet Planetary Health, suggests that for every extra degree Celsius in extreme heat stress, there was a 17 per cent increase in foetal strain.
Dr Ana Bonell, the lead researcher at LSHTM, said: ‘We were extremely shocked to find that the foetuses were being affected by the heat stress exposure.’
‘It’s only going to get hotter and we know that if women are exposed to high temperatures, this has very severe impacts on birth outcomes such as pre-term births and stillbirths.’
Learn more from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine