Curtis Means, 16 months, lived his first 275 days in the neonatal ICU and is now officially the world’s most premature infant to survive to its first birthday, Guinness World Records certified last Wednesday. While Curtis’s survival is an extraordinary testament to medical science (and his resilience) it also reflects an increasing trend that may be linked to climate change, the New York Times reports. Pregnant people exposed to high temperatures or air pollution, a 2020 study found, were more likely to have children who were premature, underweight or stillborn — and racism is a risk factor as well.
Scientists are still determining the exact role climate change and the combustion of fossil fuels play in these cases, but premature births fell 20% in California areas where fossil fuel plants were shut down. “It’s going to get worse,” Dr. Bruce Bekkar, one of the authors of the 2020 study, told the Times. Climate change “is going to continue to put increasing pressure on premature birthrates.” (New York Times $)