There isn't enough research on Diwali pollution specifically and it's effect on pregnancy and a growing baby to know. But a lot of research has been done on the effects of general pollution in pregnancy. This research does show that breathing in air pollutants can cause harm to a baby in the womb and the longer the exposure to the pollutants, the greater the effect.
Studies have found that long term exposure to air pollutants can cause any of the following:
- intra-uterine growth retardation (IUGR)
- low birthweight
- increased risk of a premature delivery
- poor placental growth and function
- heart defects in the baby
Fireworks and crackers emit smoke, trace gases and particulates, including metals into the air. This causes air pollution and smog that often linger for several days after Diwali. Some parts of the country are worse affected by Diwali pollution than others because of climatic conditions that keep the pollutants in the air for longer.
Even if Diwali pollution does not stay for long enough to have lasting effects on you or your growing baby, it can aggravate asthma, breathing problems or allergies. To help limit your exposure to pollutants during and after Diwali you can try the following:
- Say no to crackers in your home. The best way to reduce your exposure to firework pollution is to celebrate your Diwali with diyas, lanterns and electrical lights rather than fireworks. You can make up for the fun of crackers by dancing and feasting instead of being outside and breathing in harmful pollutants.
- Keep your doors and windows closed, especially at the time when most of the firecrackers are being lit. This will help to reduce your exposure to the smoke and ash in the air. If you want to keep your door open to invite auspiciousness into your home, do so for a short period of time only, such as for the duration of the Lakshmi puja.
- Consider wearing a mask, especially if you have to be outdoors for long and will be in the smoke of the firecrackers. Though it might not look nice, a mask can help prevent direct exposure and contact with some pollutants though not all.
- If possible, stay indoors during the peak time when fireworks are in full swing and the next few days after Diwali when there is often smog and high levels of pollution. If you commute to work, keep the windows of your car closed and the recycle button on your air ventilator or air conditioner on.
Some mums are also concerned about the effects of smoke from a havan on their growing baby. Occasional exposure to smoke is unlikely to cause harm to your baby but make sure that there is good ventilation where the havan is being conducted to prevent any kind of smoke poisoning.
While the festivities are on and during the few days after Diwali, be sure to contact your doctor right away if you experience any: