More Trees in Neighborhood = Healthier Babies

You’ve heard all the obvious benefits of urban trees — shading buildings, sheltering wildlife, filtering air pollution, stopping erosion. A new Portland study suggests a more surprising benefit: healthier newborns.

Researchers used satellite images to compare tree cover around the houses of 5,696 women who gave birth in Portland in 2006 and 2007. Pregnant women living in houses graced by more trees were significantly less likely to deliver undersized babies.

Tree cover made no difference in the rate of pre-term births, but researchers found a consistent link to the prevalence of infants who were small for their gestational age. For each 10 percent increase in tree coverage within about 50 yards of a home, the rate of undersized newborns decreased by 1.42 per 1000 births. As it stands, about 70 of every 1,000 newborns in Portland are small for gestational age.

Wow, what an interesting study! And some interesting and potentially important findings as well. How many trees are in your neighborhood?

Read the full story on OregonLive: More trees in a city bring surprising benefit, Portland study finds.

Photo Credit: AllisonKo