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?
- Thinking 'I Can Do Better' Really Can Improve Performance, Study Finds
- Can A New Rule Trigger A Second EU Referendum? Petition 4 Millon Signatures, Nearly 12% Of Total Votes Cast
- Little To No Association Between Butter Consumption And Chronic Disease Or Total Mortality
- Pubic Hair Grooming Common Among Some US Women
- How A Former Naturopath Can Help Unravel The Trickery of Alternative Medicine
- MRI Shows Antisocial Behavior In The Brain
- Some Celiac Disease May Be Due To Viruses
- " Media Silent as Concealed Carrier Stops Mass Shooting in Progress at a South Carolina Nightclub..."
- "Thank you for your support - but since the comment you refer to was advocating the shutting down..."
- "Instead of ND, substitute DD, and you have a whole other basket of charlatans - and that comment..."
- " Some parts from my second response to Nina Teicholz article ( http://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj..."
- "Science researchers did the CARET study, to see if vitamin A could chemo-prevent lung cancer (it..."
- The Relationship Between Alcohol and Happiness
- Psst…NRDC Stoners: Your Endocrines Are Disrupted
- College Kids Mostly Blow Off Food-Label Use, Study Finds
- Blue Birds Aren’t Blue, and This is How They Fool You
- ‘Vaxxed’: The Film That No One Saw
- Vice President Joe Biden Threatens the Scientific Community
- MRI technique induces strong, enduring visual association
- In making tough decisions, plants weigh the risks
- Towards a cure for herpesviruses: Targeting infection with CRISPR/Cas9
- A quick and easy new method to detect Wolbachia bacteria in intact Aedes mosquitoes
- Air pollution linked to increased rates of kidney disease