Pregnancy may be an extremely stressful time in people’s lives. Moms-to-be need to take really good care of themselves. One of the very important things that pregnant women need is sunlight.
Scientists at the University of Edinburgh found that pregnant women can reduce the risk of premature birth by getting more sunshine.
Researchers analysed data of nearly 400,000 mothers and more than 500,000 babies born after 24 weeks of pregnancy. They took a deep look into maternity records in Scotland from between 2000 and 2010 and cross-checked that data with weather records from the same period and location. In other words, scientists were able to link sunlight levels in a specific location with pregnancy outcomes from the same place. While sun exposure in the second trimester did not seem to be crucial for on-time birth, enough sunlight in the first trimester was crucial in reducing the risk of developing problems with their placenta associated with preterm birth and baby loss.
It is important to note that researchers took such factors as age and smoking into account in order to shape really informative advice. However, researchers say that more work needs to be done to understand the link between sunshine and premature birth risk. Scientists also want to see if artificial light can boost pregnancy health – this would be very important in areas where natural sunlight is very limited. The leading cause of death in children under five-years-old are complications caused by preterm birth. Surviving children are more likely to be disabled.
Scientists have an idea why sunlight might be reducing the risk of premature birth. When we are in direct sunlight nitric oxide is released into our bloodstream. It is found to reduce blood pressure. Furthermore, sun exposure improves health overall, and contributes to vitamin D production. Some studies have shown that COVID-19 takes fewer lives in sunnier areas, but sunlight also reduces your chances to experience a heart attack or stroke. Dr Sarah Stock, one of the authors of the study, said: “The role of sunlight is an exciting new avenue for research into preterm birth prevention. This study is important because it provides further data reminding us that sunlight has health benefits as well as risks.”
Of course, sunlight is also associated with skin cancer. But benefits in many cases outweigh the risks, as long as you’re not cooking yourself in the sun for hours and hours. Pregnant women should take longer walks in the sun – not only it will help them get some sun, but it will also reduce stress.
Source: University of Edinburgh