Health: During pregnancy women who breathe in polluted air exposes their babies cells to “aging”.
According to researchers, babies with higher exposure to fine particle pollution during gestation had shorter caps on the ends of their chromosomes.
“Reducing exposure to air pollution is a good thing, for both the parents and for the unborn baby,” said Pam Factor-Litvak, author of an accompanying editorial and a public health researcher at Columbia University in New York.
“Prenatal exposure to air pollution is associated with a host of adverse outcomes,” Factor-Litvak said by email.
“We know that air pollution reduces the birth weight of babies and may reduce gestational age and head circumference, but we did not know about biological aging during pregnancy,” Nieuwenhuijsen, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email. “I believe this is the first study looking at this and shows that aging due to air pollution starts already during pregnancy.”
According to Dr. Shruthi Mahalingaiah, a researcher at Boston University School of Medicine who wasn’t involved in the study.
“The take home message is to limit exposure to air pollution when you can – if you bike to work during rush hour – consider biking during other times to reduce exposures to vehicular exhaust,” Mahalingaiah said by email. “If you live in areas of the world with high levels of ambient air pollution, you may consider installing appropriate air/ventilation systems so that your in-home air quality is excellent.”
For the study, Tim Nawrot of Hasselt University in Diepenbeek, Belgium, and colleagues examined telomere length from samples of cord blood and placental tissue for 641 newborns in the Flanders region. They also looked at mothers’ exposure to pollutants known as PM 2.5, a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter that can include dust, dirt, soot and smoke and are often found in traffic exhaust.
SOURCES: bit.ly/2ztlah8 and bit.ly/2zshNa7 JAMA Pediatrics, online October 16, 2017.