HOUSTON (Covering Katy News) – The severe impact of Hurricane Harvey was felt both by pregnant women and their newborns and it was not positive.
Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital studied the effects of the hurricane on pregnant women who delivered their babies before and after the natural disaster. Their findings were recently published in Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Researchers studied 40,000 pregnancies before and after the Hurricane Harvey period. They looked at women delivering at Texas Children’s Hospital and Ben Taub Hospital who were either pregnant during Harvey or delivered prior to Harvey.
“If we compared all the women who were pregnant during Harvey and went on to deliver after Harvey, to those women who were pregnant and delivered before Harvey, we could see a difference both with respect to increased maternal morbidity as well as neonatal morbidity,” said Dr. Kjersti Aagaard, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor and senior author of the study.
According to Aagaard, the greatest shift in terms of the maternal morbidity was specific to women of a lower socioeconomic status. Findings were independent of whether women identified as being affected by Hurricane Harvey or whether they perceived stress in response to the hurricane.
“Exposure to Hurricane Harvey during any point in pregnancy, from the time of conception and including the time of delivery, resulted in a higher risk in maternal and neonatal morbidity – and this was especially pronounced on the maternal complications side among women of lower socioeconomic status,” Aagaard said.
“We can only speculate on the underlying biological reasons why at this point. We are particularly interested in the possibility of exposures to stress and environmental chemicals, and are exploring several measurable changes,” shared Aagaard.
Other contributors to this work include Hector Mendez-Figueroa, Suneet P. Chauhan, Mary C. Tolcher, Alireza A. Shamshirsaz, Haleh Sangi-Haghpeykar, Ryan M. Pace and Derrick M. Chu. This work was funded by the National Institutes of Health NIEHS.