Pollution

Air pollution particles found in mothers’ placentas

New research shows direct evidence that toxic air – already strongly linked to harm in unborn babies – travels through mothers’ bodies

LONDON, ENGLAND — “Scientists have found the first evidence that particles of air pollution travel through pregnant women’s lungs and lodge in their placentas.

Toxic air is already strongly linked to harm in foetuses but how the damage is done is unknown. The new study, involving mothers living in London, UK, revealed sooty particles in the placentas of each of their babies and researchers say it is quite possible the particles entered the foetuses too.

‘It is a worrying problem – there is a massive association between air pollution a mother breathes in and the effect it has on the foetus,” said Dr Lisa Miyashita, at Queen Mary University of London, one of the research team. “It is always good if possible to take less polluted routes if you are pregnant – or indeed if you are not pregnant. I avoid busy roads when I walk to the station.’

series of previous studies have shown that air pollution significantly increases the risk of premature birth and of low birth weight, leading to lifelong damage to health. A large study of more than 500,000 births in London, published in December, confirmed the link and led doctors to say that the implications for many millions of women in polluted cities around the world are “’omething approaching a public health catastrophe.'”

— Damian Carrington, The Guardian

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