In-Womb Air Pollution Exposure May Up Blood Pressure in Childhood
Exposure of babies to high levels of air pollution in the womb may increase the risk of elevated blood pressure in childhood, according to a new study.
Fine particulate matter of 2.5 microns or less (PM2.5) is a form of air pollution produced by motor vehicles and the burning of oil, coal and biomass. It has been shown to enter the circulatory system and negatively affect human health.
The study was published in the journal Hypertension.
Noel T. Mueller is also the co-author of the study.
For the study, the researchers examined 1,293 mothers and their children. Blood pressure was measured at each childhood physical examination at three to nine years old.
A systolic blood pressure was considered elevated if it was in the highest 10% for children of the same age on national data. Higher exposure to air pollution in the third trimester, when fetal weight gain is the most rapid, was already known to influence (lower) birth weight.
A woman's fine-particulate matter exposure before pregnancy was not associated with blood pressure in her offspring, thus providing evidence of the significant impact of in-utero exposure, the researcher added.
These results reinforce the importance of reducing emissions of PM2.5 in the environment. Not only does exposure increase the risk of illness and death in those directly exposed, but it may also cross the placental barrier in pregnancy and affect fetal growth and increase future risks for high blood pressure.Noel T. Mueller, Assistant Professor, Johns Hopkins University, US
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