Heat Exposure and Maternal Health in the Face of Climate Change

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017 Jul 29;14(8):853. doi: 10.3390/ijerph14080853.


Climate change will increasingly affect the health of vulnerable populations, including maternal and fetal health. This systematic review aims to identify recent literature that investigates increasing heat and extreme temperatures on pregnancy outcomes globally. We identify common research findings in order to create a comprehensive understanding of how immediate effects will be sustained in the next generation. Following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guide, we systematically reviewed articles from PubMed and Cochrane Reviews. We included articles that identify climate change-related exposures and adverse health effects for pregnant women. There is evidence that temperature extremes adversely impact birth outcomes, including, but not limited to: changes in length of gestation, birth weight, stillbirth, and neonatal stress in unusually hot temperature exposures. The studies included in this review indicate that not only is there a need for further research on the ways that climate change, and heat in particular, may affect maternal health and neonatal outcomes, but that uniform standards for assessing the effects of heat on maternal fetal health also need to be established.

Keywords: climate change; fetal health; heat exposure; maternal health.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Climate Change*
  • Female
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Humans
  • Maternal Health*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome*