In a first, toxic air pollutants found in unborn babies
Air pollution will likely affect the health and development of unborn babies as toxic pollutants have been found in their developing lungs and other vital organs, a new study published in the journal Lancet Planetary Health found. The study detected the particles as early as the third trimester, raising worries about environmental exposure. The findings sparked widespread alarm about the dangers of air pollution.
Why does this story matter?
- Air pollution is considered one of the biggest contributors to miscarriages and premature births globally.
- In 2019, it resulted in nearly six million premature births and almost three million underweight babies around the world, according to a study published last year in the journal PLOS Medicine.
- Researchers actually quantified the effects of indoor and outdoor pollution around the world using data from 204 countries.
Pollution might have lifelong health consequences for child: Study
Thousands of black carbon particles were detected in each cubic millimeter of tissue, according to the researchers. The particles were most likely inhaled by the mother during pregnancy and transferred to the fetus via the circulation and placenta. The study gives direct proof of how that injury may be induced. The contamination, according to the experts, might have long-term health consequences.
Soot from different sources main toxic particle
It said the harmful particles are composed of soot from the combustion of fossil fuels in automobiles, residences, and industry. Notably, the research was carried out on nonsmoking mothers in Scotland and Belgium, both of which have comparatively low levels of air pollution.
What did the expert say?
Prof Jonathan Grigg of Queen Mary University of London, who discovered air pollution particles in the placenta in 2018, said the latest study has demonstrated conclusively that the particles then enter the fetuses. "Seeing particles getting into the brain of fetuses raises the stakes because this potentially has lifelong consequences for the child," Grigg said.
Toxic pollutants found in fetal brain more worrying: Co-author
"We have shown for the first time that black carbon nanoparticles not only get into the first and second trimester placenta but then also find their way into the organs of the developing fetus," said Prof Paul Fowler, the co-author. "What is even more worrying is that these particles also get into the developing human brain," he said.
90% of the global population exposed to air pollution: WHO
The WHO estimates that 90% of the global population lives in places where air pollution is above World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, causing millions of early deaths each year. And till last year almost half of the world's population was exposed to indoor air pollution from burning coal, dung, and wood inside the home.