Protect your baby from air pollution

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Protect your baby from air pollution

We have known for some time that exposure to pollutants in the air can affect the health of mothers and their unborn babies. But exactly WHY this happens has not been fully understood, until now.

Missing link found

Researchers from Hasselt University in Belgium believe they may have found the answer. They discovered tiny particles of black carbon in the fetal side of the placenta of pregnant women. Proving that airborne pollutants pass THROUGH the placenta to reach baby. Knowing that unborn babies are directly exposed to black carbon in this way, provides the missing link scientists have been looking for.

It’s the soot that puts baby at risk

Previous studies show that pollution causes an inflammatory response in our immune systems. And it was this inflammation that scientists believed was affecting the health of unborn babies. But these latest findings show it is the soot itself that is causing the problem.

Before a baby is born is the most vulnerable time in their development. Being exposed to black carbon in this way is a very real threat to their health.

Pollution linked to infant mortality

In another study, this time from Cardiff University in the UK, scientists found that babies living in areas where there are high levels of pollution are at greater risk of death, in comparison to babies living in areas with low pollution levels. The team focused on three main pollutants, Particulate Matter (PM10) from vehicles and waste incineration, Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), from fossil fuels used in power stations and refineries. They looked at infant mortality rates from birth to a child’s first birthday. They found children living in areas where pollution levels are high, have a significantly greater risk of dying before they are one year old.

Pollution responsible for ‘silent miscarriage’

In a study from China, scientists from Beijing Normal University looked at data from 250,000 pregnant women. They found their chances of having a miscarriage in the first trimester were increased, if pollution levels rose by even a small amount. Often this type of miscarriage is referred to as a ‘silent miscarriage’. The foetus has not yet fully formed but the placenta and embryonic tissue remain intact.

Babies born early when exposed to pollutants

In a study from the US, a team found that mothers pregnant with their second child, were more likely to give birth early, if exposed to pollutants such as Ozone and Sulphur Dioxide. Being born early can have a serious impact on the health of a baby in the long term. They are at higher risk of infection, they may have difficulty feeding and are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as asthma.

It’s time to act

It is clear from these latest findings, babies and children bear the real brunt of air pollution. Their lungs are still developing, leaving them more vulnerable to damage. Children are small, so they are closer to the ground, where pollution levels from vehicles are higher. And they breathe faster. More breathes means more pollution is inhaled.

According to the World Health Organization, air pollution is now a global PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY. If we don’t act fast to clean up the air. Our children and grandchildren will be the ones to truly suffer.