sept 11 dust cloud
August 17, 2014

Women Living Near World Trade Towers On 9/11 May Have Experienced Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes From Dust Cloud

April Flowers for - Your Universe Online

Thirteen years later, one might think that the repercussions of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center had all been found. A new study from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, published online in the National Bureau of Economic Research's (NBER) working papers, demonstrates that this assumption would be wrong. Their findings show that pregnant women living near the World Trade Towers that day have experienced higher-than-normal negative birth outcomes.

According to Janet Currie and Hannes Schwandt, both of the Wilson School, women were more likely to give birth prematurely and deliver babies with low birth weights. The infants, especially males, were far more likely to be admitted to neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) after birth, as well.

"Previous research into the health impacts of in utero exposure to the 9/11 dust cloud on birth outcomes has shown little evidence of consistent effects. This is a puzzle given that 9/11 was one of the worst environmental catastrophes to have ever befallen New York City," said Currie, Henry Putnam Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, director of the economics department and director of the Wilson School's Center for Health and Wellbeing. "Our work suggests a simple resolution of this puzzle, which is that the women who lived in neighborhoods exposed to the 9/11 dust cloud had very different experiences than women in other parts of New York City."

A zone of negative air pressure was created by the collapse of the two towers, pushing dust and smoke into the avenues surrounding the site. Previous research has confirmed the significant negative health effects on the adult community residents and emergency workers created by environmental exposure to the dust cloud.

The researchers analyzed the data of all births that were in utero on September 11, 2001, in New York City. They compared these children to their siblings, finding that the chances of delivering a baby prematurely doubled for women in their first trimester on that day. Baby boys, especially, were more likely to have birth complications and very low birth weights, and were more likely to be admitted to NICUs.

The 9/11 dust cloud affected the neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan, Battery Park City, SoHo, TriBeCa, Civic Center, Little Italy, Chinatown and the Lower East side. Other post-9/11 health studies failed to account for many women living in Lower Manhattan, who were typically less likely to have poor birth outcomes than women living in the other neighborhoods.