It's well known that air pollution can cause of all kinds of nasty health problems - headaches, nausea, allergic reactions, chronic respiratory disease, lung cancer and heart disease counted among them. But according to new research, it can also make unborn children stupid.
A study by the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health (CCCEH) carried out in Krakow, Poland has found that prenatal exposure to pollutants can adversely affect children's cognitive development by age 5.
Researchers report that children exposed to high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in Krakow had a significant reduction in scores on a standardized test of reasoning ability and intelligence at age 5. The study findings appear in Environmental Health Perspectives.
PAHs are released into the air from the burning of fossil fuels for transportation, heating, energy production, and from other combustion sources.
"The effect on intelligence was comparable to that seen in NYC children exposed prenatally to the same air pollutants," noted Frederica Perera, professor of Environmental Health Sciences and director of the CCCEH at the Mailman School of Public Health, and senior author. "This finding is of concern because IQ is an important predictor of future academic performance, and PAHs are widespread in urban environments and throughout the world."
The study included a cohort of 214 children who were born to healthy, non-smoking Caucasian women in Krakow, Poland between 2001 and 2006. During pregnancy, the mothers completed a questionnaire, wore small backpack personal air monitors to estimate their babies' PAH exposure, and provided a blood sample and/or a cord blood sample at the time of delivery.
The children were followed through the age of 5 when they were tested using the Raven Coloured Progressive Matrices (RCPM) Test of reasoning ability and intelligence.
Researchers accounted for other factors such as second-hand smoke exposure, lead and mother's education. Study participants exposed to air pollution levels below the median (17.96 nanograms per cubic meter) were designated as having "low exposure," while those exposed to pollution levels above the median were identified as "high exposure."
"Air pollution knows no boundaries," said Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. "Researchers around the globe are finding that air pollution is harmful to children's development."
Citation: Edwards et al., 'Prenatal Exposure to Airborne Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Children’s Intelligence at Age 5 in a Prospective Cohort Study in Poland', Environmental Health Prospectives, ' April 2010; doi:10.1289/ehp.0901070
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Metal Hip Replacements Implanted Since 2006 More Prone To Failure
- The Number Of My Publications Has Four Digits
- Professor Frenkel: Why Shouldn't We Drop Algebra From Our Education System?
- Matter Can Potentially Accelerate The Expansion Of The Universe
- The Geology Of Wine
- Exposure To Particulate Air Pollutants Associated With Numerous Cancers
- Why Fraternal Twins Run In Families
- "In Reading University Library there is a most interesting book Felix Klein and Sophus Lie by I..."
- "Correction (will merge this into the article later): Orange dwarf stars have lifetimes of 15 -..."
- "Lobos, after what you say about academia, I still wander why you keep the Harvard Veritas coat..."
- "For a pedagogical introduction to the Friedmann equations, see for instance this set of lectures..."
- "of course they can adopt to the thinking of humans because they programmed by humans so whatever..."
- The Lancet Psychiatry: Depression symptoms that steadily increase in later life predict higher dementia risk, study shows
- Is breast conserving therapy or mastectomy better for early breast cancer?
- Failure to publish trial results exposes patients to risks without providing benefits
- Newly discovered baby Titanosaur sheds light on dinosaurs' early lives
- Forming fogbows: Study finds limit on evaporation to ice sheets, but that may change