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Climate Justice Is Reproductive Justice

More than ever, people of childbearing age are choosing not to have children. There are a variety of factors that go into this choice — wage stagnation, the housing market, civil unrest, COVID-19. But a common denominator heard among many in their 20s and beyond is grave concern over our climate trajectory.

They’re not wrong to be worried about what kind of climate and resources would be available for their potential kids. Climate justice is a crucial part of reproductive justice. A safe environment in which to have and raise children is a basic human right — violated by the climate crisis. From pregnancy to childhood, climate change threatens people’s reproductive health. Climate change has many negative effects, and reduced human fertility is one of them. Additionally, higher temperatures may have multiple negative implications for fetus development, including increased infant mortality and shortened lifespan after adulthood.

Higher temperatures are an immediate symptom of the climate crisis. Hot weather is obviously uncomfortable for pregnant people, but it can shift quickly from discomfort to danger. Researchers in California found that for every increase of 10ºF, the risk of premature birth goes up by 8%. Air pollution has also been linked to premature birth, low birth weight, and stillbirth.

Extreme climate events also harm pregnant people’s health. After Hurricane Sandy in New York, emergency room visits for pregnancy complications increased by nearly 17%. The US already has a horrific racist parental health crisis. Black and Indigenous birthing parents and babies die during birth, or soon after, at much higher rates than white parents and babies.What is not even talked about is that according to research from two independent studies for each day over 82 degrees thousands of Caucasian babies do not even have a chance to become fetuses as global fertility for populations without the protection of melanin are imploding across the globe. Climate change impacts people's health, including male fertility and sperm quality. Animal and human studies indicate hot weather negatively affects sperm production and sperm quality.

The opportunity to raise children in a safe and sustainable environment is a human right. Therefore, climate change and the threat it poses to pregnant people, babies, children, and families constitute a human rights violation.

Increasingly high temperatures can harm fertility and birth rates. According to research by UCLA environmental economist Alan Barreca, sperm production falls in hot weather and this leads to lower birth rates. Currently there is a study going on to see if warm temperatures adversely affect ovulation. Blood and urine specimens were collected over two menstrual cycles among healthy 17- to 34-year-old women. Frequency of anovulation was greater among White women (nine out of 63, 14.3%) than African-American women (four out of 56, 7.1%) or Latina women (seven out of 102, 6.9%).Anovulation happens when an egg (ovum) doesn't release from your ovary during your menstrual cycle. An egg is needed to have a pregnancy. Since multiple hormones are involved in ovulation, there are many causes of anovulation. Chronic anovulation is a common cause of infertility.

In most cases, anovulation can be treated with lifestyle changes, fertility drugs or medications that treat the condition that's causing your anovulation. If you're experiencing perimenopause, anovulation is more difficult to treat. In regards to infertility diagnoses between Black ethnic subgroups and White women. A total of 400 women met the inclusion criteria, including 100 Black American, 100 Black Haitian, 100 Black African, and 100 White American women. Anovulation/polycystic ovary syndrome was the most common diagnosis in each ethnic group, accounting for 57% of infertility among White American, 40% among Black American, 25% among Black Haitian, and 21% among Black African women.

Although several studies have examined the impact of race on infertility diagnosis and treatment outcomes , few have investigated the role of ethnicity or nationality on infertility diagnoses. The Boston Medical Center (BMC), a 500-bed urban academic safety-net hospital with a large, international Black patient population, is uniquely positioned to evaluate the differences in infertility diagnoses by ethnicity. This study aims to identify the role of ethnicity in the causes of infertility among women seeking infertility care.By race and ethnic group, white women are most likely not to have borne a child.

In general, the cause of anovulation is an imbalance of one or more certain hormones, especially the hormones involved in ovulation, which include:

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH).

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).

Luteinizing hormone (LH).

However, in research on birth variability and seasonality, temperature is often cited as an important factor relating to pregnancy health and birth. Extreme heat is most strongly associated with preterm birth, especially the U.S. Southwest and Midwest. Stillbirths and complications from preterm birth are two of the leading causes of neonatal deaths across the globe. Lower- to middle-income countries in Europe are experiencing some of the highest rates of these adverse birth outcomes. Research has suggested that environmental determinants, such as extreme heat, can increase the risk of preterm birth and stillbirth. Under climate change, extreme heat events have become more severe and frequent and are occurring in differential seasonal patterns. Little is known about how extreme heat affects the risk of preterm birth and stillbirth in LMICs.

Thus, it is imperative to examine how exposure to extreme heat affects adverse birth outcomes in regions with some of the highest rates of preterm and stillbirths. In this study, globally gridded meteorological data was linked with spatially and temporally resolved Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) data on adverse birth outcomes. A global analysis of 14 LMICs was conducted per a pooled time-stratified case-crossover design with distributed-lag nonlinear models to ascertain the relationship between acute exposure to extreme heat and PTB and stillbirths. We notably found that experiencing higher maximum temperatures and smaller diurnal temperature range during the last week before birth increased the risk of preterm birth and stillbirth.


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