Study finds that exposure to pollution during pregnancy can harm unborn child’s lungs
Researchers in Spain have shown that being exposed to traffic pollution when pregnant can damage the lungs of a woman’s unborn child.
The study, published in the journal, Thorax, used data from a large survey that followed 1295 pregnant women and their children based in several different regions of Spain.
Information on air pollution exposure was collected from each of the pregnant women at the start of the study, with a specific focus on two pollutants associated with traffic and industry: nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and benzene. 48% of the children then took lung function tests when they turned four and a half years old, to measure the effect of air pollution on their development.
After comparing both sets of data, the researchers found that the children of mothers in contact with higher levels of NO2 and benzene were more likely to show reduced lung function in breathing tests. This link was strongest when the exposure took place during the second trimester (weeks 13–28) of pregnancy.
The researchers argue that these findings highlight the need for policies that will protect against air pollution.