Black women, nonsmokers near busy roads face higher miscarriage risk

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A new study from state environmental health scientists indicates that more miscarriages occur among African-American and nonsmoking women who live near busy roads.

It's the first published study to link residential traffic exposure to the risk of miscarriage.

Dr. Shelley Green analyzed Kaiser Permanente’s telephone interviews with pregnant women 19 years ago. Volunteers from northern California and San Bernardino spoke to researchers during their first trimester of pregnancy. Among 5-thousand women, about 9 percent of them had miscarriages.

That's in the normal range. Generally, women in the study who lived near busy roads miscarried more often.

Data for nonsmoking women and African American women showed a significant connection between where they lived and whether they miscarried. Not surprisingly, women who smoked and lived near busy roads faced an even higher risk – 10 percent higher - for miscarriage.

Researcher Green said more and larger studies could confirm these results and determine biological reasons for the effect.