Scientists found the first evidence that air pollution particles travel through pregnant women lungs and lodge in their placentas. A study of women in London, United Kingdom found sooty particles in the placentas of their babies and researchers believe that the particles are likely to enter the fetus.
This study indicates that the air a mother breathes has a direct effect on the fetus. If you are pregnant, it’s always better to take a less polluted route in the city and avoid busy roads. Even if you are not pregnant – this a great rule of thumb to avoid adverse health effects such as asthma.
In the new study, the placentas of five non-smoking women that delivered healthy babies were examined. Researchers isolated macrophage cells, which are part of the body’s immune system and engulf harmful particles such as bacteria and air pollution. Using an optical microscope, the researchers found 72 dark particles identified as soot among 3,500 cells. The particles looked the same as sooty particles found in microphages of the lungs – which catch many, but not all soot particles.
This study raises awareness among doctors and the public regarding the harmful effects of air pollution in pregnant women.
Other effects of air pollution on human health
Recent studies have shown that air pollution results in health problems that go far beyond the lungs, such as a “huge” reduction in intelligence and nanoparticles from air pollution discovered in human brains.
Previous studies have also shown that air pollution significantly increases the risk of premature birth and low birth weight, resulting in lifelong health problems. The link has been confirmed by large scale studies, leading doctors to say that the implications for mothers in polluted cities are “something approaching a public health catastrophe”.
[via The Guardian]