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To move house to protect my unborn child? (pollution-related)

(43 Posts)
Iggypoppie Thu 21-Apr-16 11:07:05

And have/would you do the same?

I'm 7 months pregnant so please bear with me, but I am so stressed about living next to a motorway and the potential effects on the baby. I know it is too late to move before the baby is due but what about afterwards?

I am reading so many articles on health effects of air pollution (see below), and have asthma myself, but it seems like I cannot get away from air pollution unless I move miles away from work, friends and family. I am even thinking about renting a caravan somewhere.

Has anyone done the same? Or have you stayed near a busy road/motorway with young children and all has turned out ok??? [NB: I know stress is also important and should be reduced anyway as it's not going to help either].

Recent articles:

Impact of large industrial emission sources on mortality and morbidity in Chile: A small-areas study

Spatial variations in the associations of term birth weight with ambient air pollution in Georgia, USA

Projecting ozone-related mortality in East China

Maternal residential proximity to major roadways, birth weight, and placental DNA methylation

Fibrin clot structure is affected by levels of particulate air pollution exposure in patients with venous thrombosis

Evaluation of air quality indicators in Alberta, Canada – An international perspective

Short-term dynamics of indoor and outdoor endotoxin exposure: Case of Santiago, Chile, 2012

An assessment of dioxin exposure across gestation and lactation using a PBPK model and new data from Seveso

Association of modeled long-term personal exposure to ultrafine particles with inflammatory and coagulation biomarkers. Environment International 2016;92-93:173-182.

Birdsgottafly Thu 21-Apr-16 11:25:56

Are you in the UK?

Iggypoppie Thu 21-Apr-16 11:29:14

Yes - in a UK city centre, with a motorway within 500 yards. Plus diesel fuelled buses on main road below.

NickyEds Thu 21-Apr-16 11:32:37

Step. Away. From. Google.

In the kindest possible way, have you suffered from anxiety? It'seems perfectly normal to worry about things like this when you're pregnant but I'd take the articles above with a pinch of salt because they're from the US or Chile and also if you look at the bottom of them none have ever been cited. Citations are a marker of how the research has been used and regarded by other scientists and in this case there aren't any. Have you discussed it with your mw? How close are you to the road?

BarbarianMum Thu 21-Apr-16 11:36:23

We moved from a city centre flat to a house on the edge of town when ds1 was a toddler and ds2 newborn. Air quality was one of three reasons we did so (the others were a garden and not having to climb 56 stairs every time we wanted to go home).

So whilst I wouldn't panic I wouldn't necessarily say its a bad idea either, long term.

Ivegotyourgoat Thu 21-Apr-16 11:36:35

Well I live on a busyish road, I have two dc and they seem fine.

All I can say is that people have babies all over he UK, in London, in city centres and they are all fine. There are so many things that we are exposed to that may harm us in some way.

I think pregnancy is a worrying time it sounds as though this is causing you a lot of anxiety but it seems like you have really latched onto this issue. Perhaps speak to your midwife for some reassurance.

If you want to move look at the bigger picture really.

BarbarianMum Thu 21-Apr-16 11:39:08

Sorry - to clarify - moving to the middle of nowhere to huddle in a caravan is a bad idea. But there is great variation b/w parts of towns wrt air quality. If you are in a poor air quality area (as we were) then there will be areas with cleaner air not that far away.

cestlavielife Thu 21-Apr-16 11:41:58

I had 3 dc in flat right on busy six lane a road buses lorries etc. None have asthma or respiritory issues .
Yes it is Something to bear in mind if you move later . But don't panic. See gp for your anxiety get some cbt

Iggypoppie Thu 21-Apr-16 11:48:52

Thanks everyone for your comments! Yes I do suffer from the anxiety monster!

I'm just worried that I might miss a vital development window for the baby's lungs that will be lost forever.

babarian yes huddled in a caravan probably isn't that practical is it?

Maybe I need to have a plan for the first year?

- Go to a park at least once at day
- Avoid walking along congested roads
- Spend more time at back of house away from road
- Try and get away as much at weekends to countryside
- Get some sort of air filter
- Make a plan for longer term move (e.g. in a year or two's time when I might be able to afford a bigger place)

Does this all seem reasonable?


FearOfFlying Thu 21-Apr-16 11:52:56

OP, in answer to your question - yes I would move away from a busy motorway. I would discount any house on a busy main road too.

But, if it's any consolation, a sense of anxiety and wanting to protect your baby is not unusual when pregnant - I went very strange indeed during my pregnancies. I was obsessive about safety.

So chill out about it, don't panic, and maybe look at a long-term plan of moving.

BarbarianMum Thu 21-Apr-16 11:55:00

-Ventilate your house by opening the back windows, rather than those that face onto the road. But do ventilate it, it will improve the air quality inside.

AnnaT45 Thu 21-Apr-16 11:55:21

On the other side of this I live in a sleepy village and my DD was diagnosed with asthma at 11 months. I think genes play a huge role in it to be honest.

But doing things like finding parks in less polluted areas etc may help. Try not to worry too much and enjoying the rest of your pregnancy

MattDillonsPants Thu 21-Apr-16 11:55:39

OP moving away from the motorway should be a priority. Some people will minimise the effects but in my opinion you're being sensible.

Don't focus on the effects. Focus on how to get away from the pollution and into a cleaner area.

This was a priority for DH and I in choosing where to settle down.

Jessbow Thu 21-Apr-16 11:56:13

You plan needs to include not fretting yourself silly about it.

All /any of the above sound reasonable, although bordering on obsessive in my opinion.

Be mindful about walking with a very small baby in heavily traffic congested area's seems sensible, spending more time at the back rather than the front of the house...just a bit irrational

HPsauciness Thu 21-Apr-16 11:59:29

Iggy your plan sounds sensible.

I know it's easy to say try not to worry, but pregnancy hormones seem to make a mess of your thinking sometimes, and of course, there are indeed so many different things that can affect us (stress, pollution, undesirable chemicals in food, coated on clothing, toiletries, where we live such as in radon areas).

If you tried to 'escape' all of this stuff, you would drive yourself crazy and also probably be very stressed which isn't a good state to be in. At some point you have to accept that we can't control everything, and that mostly our lives are safe and long-lived, compared with most of the world.

I was very anxious and didn't sleep well in my first pregnancy, and I was worried I would have harmed my dd (there's some evidence about stress/poorer outcomes)- but she's absolutely fine, and super chilled out, so all that stressing about stress didn't have much of an effect on her.

I think talking with someone (friend, mum, midwife) about your anxiety may be a good idea, and doing things to decrease this anxiety (mindfulness, long baths, perhaps seeing the drs if it is genuinely becoming too much) will help you feel better.

There is such a thing as pre-natal depression and if you feel out of control, anxious, like you are not coping and generally like you are depressed persistently, then it might be worth flagging this to dr. I think I had this and couldn't understand why I wasn't happy and blooming like other pregnant women.

AnUtterIdiot Thu 21-Apr-16 12:00:55

There's nothing wrong with wanting cleaner air. I lived in London all my life, now live on the outskirts of a smallish market town and London smells pretty horrible to me when I go in. But I grew up in a single glazed house on a main road which was a route to the M1 and with the M1 itself running at the bottom of the road. Two bus routes and goodness knows how many lorries. No asthma or respiratory difficulties suffered by anyone who lived there including me. (And both my parents smoked for the first 10 years of my life!)

HPsauciness Thu 21-Apr-16 12:01:38

Just to say though, that thinking about pollution when choosing where to live next, and minimising the effect right now isn't a stupid thing to do, it's completely sensible- it's the extent to which this is becoming obsessive and a cause of anxiety (which is a negative thing in itself) that may be a problem here.

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Thu 21-Apr-16 12:02:16

Yes - assuming you rent, then with a family history of asthma I think I would seriously consider it for you as much as for the baby. There is a weird statistic about the suburbs having higher rates of asthma/hayfever etc than inner London though so don't always assume it will be better. It seems likely that the new London mayor will need to bring in and extend the Low Emissions Zone asap to avoid large EU fines [yay for the EU!] so the situation may be on the UP. Once he/she does that the expectation is that councils in heavily polluted zones will also effect it as a) it will bring in revenue and b) its a no brainer and a vote winner.

All of your first year steps are good. I live in a polluted area of London within 500 yards of a very busy motorway with mostly stalled traffic and avoid the main roads as much as possible. It makes a big difference.

And stop reading articles on Google. grin

Best of luck with the rest of your pregnancy.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Thu 21-Apr-16 12:04:39

We live on a little island with lots of cars on it, so of course that has an impact on air quality. But thousands of perfectly healthy children are born to parents that live in cities every day. I'm not going to suggest you step away from Google, but I do suggest you read up on risk and how factors like these add an overall tiny % of risk. Learning how to understand and balance risks will really help your anxiety.

That said, of course you should spend time in the fresh air at the park, of course it's much more pleasant to walk along quieter roads, and longer term it's likely you'll enjoy living in a quieter, less congested place.

Try to relax, read up on risk, make the decisions you can make reasonably to lower risk even further. But please don't move into a caravan in the middle of nowhere. wink

FishWithABicycle Thu 21-Apr-16 12:04:54

It depends what's in those 500 yards to some extent.

The house we had when I first had a baby was right on a main road and next to traffic lights where lorries would sit while the lights were red belching out black smoke. The front windows of the house were always covered in black soot and it got into the house too. We didn't manage to move for a while (planned to but it was post-crash when the housing market was dead) but did eventually. We are actually probably less than 500 yards from the same main road but in a side street and we have no problems at all with air quality.

If there are trees and houses between you and the motorway I wouldn't worry. Remember that we have much stricter rules on vehicle emissions than the countries in the research papers you have found.

Enjoyingthepeace Thu 21-Apr-16 12:12:57

I would move. I don't think you're being OTT.

No need to read more articles to make yourself more anxious though.

But yes, I would move. No doubt about it.

specialsubject Thu 21-Apr-16 12:13:47

the 'weird statistic' about London air pollution isn't weird at all - it is obvious due to the direction of the UK prevailing winds. East London gets more air pollution.

large crowded cities are always going to have worse air quality. Be thankful that you are in the UK, could be a lot worse.

common sense is good, but do step away from google and forget the air filter.

Iggypoppie Thu 21-Apr-16 12:15:48


Yes there are other houses between me and the motorway.

I think, because my brain's a bit frazzled, I can't make sense of all the stats/risks factors so that is making me panic. Although common sense would dictate that many people grow up in polluted cities and are fine.

tread I own the flat, but am slightly stuck because EXH still part owns and I can't sell until the divorce is finalised, prob in a year or so's time. But I do love the area, it's somewhere I've always wanted to live, pre-DC anyway!

Enjoyingthepeace Thu 21-Apr-16 12:15:57

When I lived in central London, every time I blew my nose, there would be black stuff on the tissue. Clearly from the air pollution grime.

Moving out, that has never once happened.

Pinkheart5915 Thu 21-Apr-16 12:28:34

You've been on the internet looking at stories with will not help your aniexty no wonder your brain is frazzled.
You say you can't move before the birth so do try to relax yourself a little. Once you are able to move then you can think over it again.

I would move and we did move to a very rural location not only due to air pollution I didn't want the children growing up in a city I wanted to keep chicken

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