Pregnant? Watch out for atmospheric pollution!


Women often get into good habits early on in their pregnancy to protect the health of their babies; eating healthily, not smoking, taking it easy, and so on. Yet there is another risk to infant development that is more difficult to protect against: atmospheric pollution.

American researchers have found that when pregnant women are exposed to fine particles it has an impact on their baby’s IQ. In the study, which involved over 1000 pregnant women, scientists measured and classified the rates of exposure to fine particles of each participant during their pregnancy, then measured the IQ of their children once they had reached the age of 4-6 years old.

This is what they discovered: the children’s IQs were lower when the mothers had had higher exposure to fine particles during their pregnancy. The children of the pregnant women who had had the highest exposure to pollution had IQs 2.5 points lower than those of the less-exposed mothers.

Another interesting finding was that the children of pregnant women who had high rates of folic acid in their blood suffered less impact on their IQs. One explanation for this given by the researchers is that pollution could cause inflammation of the placenta and increase oxidative stress, and folic acid could counteract this process.