Dirty Air Linked to Behavioral Problems in Baby

Photo: Veer

Might want to avoid walking on busy streets and hanging out with smokers, mama-to-be. A new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, has found that exposure during pregnancy to air pollutants classified as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) can lead to behavioral problems in baby as he gets older. PAH is a widespread organic pollutant and can be found in emissions from wood, coal, diesel, tobacco and incense. Researchers from the Center for Children’s Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health followed the children of 253 inner-city women who gave birth between 1999 and 2006. According to researchers, there are two signs of PAH exposure: by taking a personal air sampling from the mother during her third trimester and by measuring the levels in mom’s blood and the newborn’s umbilical cord blood. If PAH is inhaled during pregnancy, it can be transferred across the placenta and bind to the DNA of the fetus.

The mothers then completed an assessment of their child’s behavior. It was found that babies whose moms had evidence of exposure to very high levels of PAH were more likely to have symptoms of anxiety, depression and attention problems. In this study, traffic emissions were the main source of pollutants in the study — 100% of the mothers in the study had some exposure to the pollution. None of the moms in the study were smokers and researchers took second hand smoking and the moms’ diets into account.

Are you worried about pollution affecting your baby? What are some things you do to get fresh air?