Try as they might, parents can’t protect their little ones from this danger.
New research shows unborn children have air pollution particles in their brains and lungs before they enter the world, a new study found.
The pollutant nanoparticles, called black carbon or soot particles, come from gas and diesel engines, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as “coal-fired power plants” and other uses of fossil fuel.
In the study, researchers from the University of Aberdeen and Hasselt University, Belgium, looked at whether or not those particles could reach a fetus — and discovered that they can.
Newborns and placentas are exposed to air pollutants much like the mother, and the nanoparticles pass through the placenta into the fetus as early as the first trimester. From there, the pollutants invade the child’s organs, like its brain, liver and lungs.
“We know that exposure to air pollution during pregnancy and infancy has been linked with stillbirth, preterm birth, low-weight babies and disturbed brain development, with consequences persisting throughout life,” Professor Tim Nawrot told SWNS.
“We show in this study that the number of black carbon particles that get into the mother are passed on proportionally to the placenta and into the baby.”
That being said, he advised that steps to regulate the quality of air should be taken during pregnancy “to protect the most susceptible stages of human development.”
Professor Paul Fowler added that they’re afraid the nanoparticles are affecting the fetus’ development in the womb.
“What we have shown for the first time is that black carbon air pollution nanoparticles not only get into the first and second trimester placenta, but then also find their way into the organs of the developing fetus, including the liver and lungs,” he said.
“What is even more worrying is that these black carbon particles also get into the developing human brain.”