Delhi doctors keeping close watch: 77 women picked so far for study on air pollution’s effects on foetus

Astha Saxena
The study was started by Guru Tegh Bahadur (GTB) Hospital last year

A year after the Guru Tegh Bahadur (GTB) Hospital started a study on pregnant women to find the impact of air pollution on the foetus, a total of 77 women have been enrolled in the progamme so far.

Funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology’s department of biotechnology (DBT) and Medical Research Centre in the United Kingdom, the study aims to include 600 pregnant women. It will be completed by 2023.

“The process of selection is tedious. Mostly, we are visiting pregnant women who are in the first trimester so that we can follow up on them throughout their pregnancy. After the delivery, we follow their children for 18 months. Women willing to be a part of the study have to sign a consent form,” said Dr Kiran Guleria, principal investigator of the study from GTB Hospital.

Out of the 77 enrolled women, 50 have delivered babies. Doctors are tracking their growth for 18 months.

Feotal growth is tracked through certain parameters — while IIT-Delhi is monitoring the exposure of air pollution, GTB Hospital is tracking the foetal growth by performing ultrasounds, taking samples, etc.


Similar projects being tried abroad as well

In April, a study conducted by scientists at the University of Aberdeen in the UK revealed how exposure to air pollution is affecting babies’ growth during pregnancy. Scientists at the University of Aberdeen reviewed over a decade’s worth of research from around the world to establish the extent to which the mother’s exposure to air pollution, diet, alcohol and chemicals affect foetal growth.

Personal sensors are given to pregnant women, and a team of doctors visits their homes once in three months to assess the level of air pollution.

“We have deployed some extra parameters like foetal biometry to get an idea about foetal growth. Foetal biometry is the measurement taken during a standard ultrasound,” said Dr Guleria.

“We are also trying to see whether air pollution is affecting the growth of the brain. At the moment, a lot of data from abroad is coming up in which scientists are able to link air pollution with foetal growth,” added Dr Guleria.

The research is a part of the study titled “DAPHNE” (Delhi Air Pollution Health And Effects), where the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) is also doing a project related to the effect of pollution on children with respiratory problems.