In utero exposure to tiny air pollution particles is linked
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Women who were highly exposed to ultrafine particles in air pollution during their pregnancy were more likely to have children who developed asthma, according to a study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Slightly more than 18 percent of the children born to these mothers developed asthma in their preschool years, compared to 7 percent of children overall in the United States identified as having asthma by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This study included 376 mothers and their children, most of them Black or Latinx, who live in the Boston metropolitan area and were already being followed to assess their health. Researchers developed a way to provide valid daily estimations of ultra-fine particulate exposure which could be linked to the area of the mothers' and children's homes. Many of these women were more likely to live near major roadways with higher traffic density where exposure to these tiny particles tends to be higher.

The researchers followed up with the mothers to find out whether the children were diagnosed with asthma. Most of the diagnoses of asthma occurred just after three years of age.

--Pollution's effect in utero can alter lung development and respiratory health. This can lead to pediatric disorders like asthma.

--While both boys and girls were affected by prenatal ultrafine particle exposure, this study found that girl babies were more sensitive to ultra-fine particle pollution's effects on asthma risk when exposed in late pregnancy.

This research is an important early step in building the evidence base that can lead to better monitoring of exposure to ultrafine particles and ultimately to regulation.

Source: https://doi.org/10.1164/rccm.202010-3743OC
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