The 9/11 Attacks may have Led to Low Birth Weights and Preterm Deliveries

The 9/11 attacks on the United States may have had far reaching consequences that people never imagined it could have. A new study shows that low birth weights and preterm deliveries plagued women who worked as first responders during the 9/11 attacks.

The lead researcher, Carey Maslow, is quick to note that women who lived near the World Trade Center (WTC) also suffered the same fate. In addition to being part of the research team, Maslow is also a Deputy Director at the Health Registry for the World Trade Center.

Areas of interest to the researchers

The study, published in America’s Public Health Journal, took ten years to complete. Maslow notes that these birth anomalies were visible in deliveries that occurred three years after the tragedy.9/11 However, these occurrences in births diminished gradually as the 10-year study period ended. The researchers examined the level of the exposure the mothers had to the tragedy. For instance, did they suffer any injuries? Did they witness any traumatic scenes? Did they perform any rescue operation within a stressful setting? Maslow and the rest of the team based their findings on answers to these questions and statistics on babies delivered by the participants.

The statistics uncovered by the study

The team used birth certificates and data on women enrolled in the WTC Health Registry. The researchers found 3,360 babies born to women enrolled in this registry between 2001 and 2010. Babies delivered preterm represented 7% of the whole total. Low birth weights represented 6% of the total figure. These newborn babies weighed up to 5 lbs 8 ounces. In contrast, an average weight of a newborn in the US is 8 lbs. The study found that babies born in a few years after 9/11 were 1.9 times more likely to be preterm than those born before the tragedy.


Maslow points out that exposure to disaster leading to adverse birthing outcomes are not new. However, no one had studied them in the context of the 9/11 tragedy. In other words, the traumatic events experienced by these women and the impact on their deliveries went unnoticed until this study revealed the connection. The research findings show that it is important for women to seek physical, psychological, and emotional support after experiencing a traumatic event. This support should be stronger when they are pregnant than at any other time after the event. Increased scrutiny of their psychological, emotional, and physical health at this time may lead to a reduction of low birth weights and preterm deliveries.