Children who are born in cities with air pollution related to traffic, may be at greater risk of developing asthma due to genetic changes that occur while they are still in the womb. Even though the babies have not even been born, pollutants in the air can cause a future of sickness, according to a new study.
Research from the University of Cincinnati and Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health has reported findings of this new study in the February 16, 2009 issue of PloS One.
In spite of the protection of being in their mother’s womb, unborn babies are still affected by the pollutants in the air.
Researchers studied umbilical cord blood from children of New York City and found evidence of a possible new biomarker. This finding is a possible predictor of environmentally related asthma in children.
Children whose mothers live in high traffic areas may have genetic changes that predispose them to asthma which can be triggered later in life.
Asthma is an incurable disease that can vary in severity, from mild to life threatening. Mothers who want to give birth to a healthy baby, but who live in an area with poor air quality may wish to take steps to protect the baby.
One solution would be to relocate to the country for fresh, clean air, but that may not be the most practical or realistic solution.
Air Pollution in the City
Dr. Joseph T. Cooke, Associate Director of Medical Critical Care at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell, has stated on the hospital website that the main air pollution culprits in the city are ozone, carbon monoxide and particulate matter. These are pollutants that can irritate the lungs and the respiratory system.
Dr. Cooke suggested work out tips for people who exercise in the city. The tips seem like helpful suggestions for pregnant women who are living and working in the city as well.
Some precautions that may help avoid to exposure to pollution include:
1. Stay indoors when possible.
2. Use air conditions during the summer to filter the indoor air.
3. Avoid exercising outdoors, because the deeper breathing during exercise may bring more polluted air into the system.
4. Go outdoors when pollution is at its lowest point, usually in the early morning or later in the evening.
5. Avoid areas of heavy truck or bus traffic.
The information that air pollution that a pregnant woman is exposed to may put unborn children risk may be the incentive needed to find ways to avoid being exposed to air pollution in the city.
Information in this article is not intended as medical advice. If you have medical questions, please consult your doctor.
University of Cincinnati, Research suggests pollution-related asthma may start in the womb. Press release dated February 13, 2009, EurekAlert.
New York Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell, Cough, Gasp, Wheez! How to Avoid Air Pollution When Exercising in the City, Dr. Joseph T. Cooke. June 1, 2005.
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