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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU: Air Pollution Linked to Irregular Menstrual Cycles

The air your teenage daughter breathes may be causing irregular menstrual cycles.

A new study led by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher has found that exposure to air pollution among teenage girls ages 14 to 18 is associated with increased chances of menstrual irregularity and longer time to achieve such regularity in high school and early adulthood.

The study, published in Human Reproduction, is the first to show that air pollution is associated with menstrual cycle regularity. Other well-documented negative health effects from air pollution exposure include infertility, metabolic syndrome, and polycystic ovary syndrome.

“While air pollution exposures have been linked to cardiovascular and pulmonary disease, this study suggests there may be other systems, such as the reproductive endocrine system, that are affected as well,” said lead author Dr. Shruthi Mahalingaiah, assistant professor of epidemiology, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the School of Medicine, and a physician in obstetrics and gynecology at Boston Medical Center.

The researchers used health and location data gathered in the Nurses’ Health Study 2 plus air pollution exposure metrics from the EPA air quality monitoring system to understand a participants’ exposure during a particular time window. They found exposure to air pollution during high school was correlated with menstrual cycle irregularity.

“Implications on human disease may come through reducing emissions on a global and individual level,” Dr. Mahalingaiah said.

Read more about the study.