Unborn babies have air pollution particles in their developing lungs and other vital organs as early as the first trimester, new research has revealed.
Scientists at the University of Aberdeen, UK, and Hasselt University, Belgium, studied air pollution nanoparticles, called black carbon – or soot particles – to see whether these can reach the foetus.
The ground-breaking findings published in Lancet Planetary Health show that the newborn baby and its placenta are exposed to air pollution black carbon nanoparticles proportionally to the mother’s exposure.
These nanoparticles also cross the placenta into the foetus in the womb as early as the first trimester of pregnancy and get into its developing organs, including its liver, lungs, and brain.
Black carbon is a sooty black material released into the air from internal combustion engines, coal-fired power plants, and other sources that burn fossil fuel. It is a major component of particulate matter (PM), which is an air pollutant. The mechanisms by which these very small particles (nanoparticles) cause well-known health problems are poorly understood, although in part due to the chemicals they are coated with during combustion.
Previous studies by the Hasselt University team found that black carbon nanoparticles get into the placenta, but there was no solid evidence that these particles then entered the foetus.
This latest study is the first time this has been shown to occur and the team behind the study say the findings are very worrying.
Professor Tim Nawrot said: “We know that exposure to air pollution during pregnancy and infancy has been linked with still birth, preterm birth, low weight babies and disturbed brain development, with consequences persisting throughout life.”
“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. This means that air quality regulation should recognise this transfer during gestation and act to protect the most susceptible stages of human development.”
To answer the question of whether these particles travel from the placenta to the foetus, Professor Nawrot linked up with Professor Paul Fowler whose team studies first and second trimester human foetuses.
Professor Fowler said: “We all worried that if nanoparticles were getting into the foetus, then they might be directly affecting its 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.
“What is even more worrying is that these black carbon particles also get into the developing human brain. This means that it is possible for these nanoparticles to directly interact with control systems within human fetal organs and cells.”
The study authors conclude that now it is known that the developing baby in the womb is directly exposed to black carbon air pollution particles, uncovering the mechanisms involved in health risks has become even more urgent.Babies have air pollution in their lungs and brains before they take their first breath | News | The University of Aberdeen
Pollution Masks since 1993 - The 'Original' and still the best - Made in the UK
THE AIR WE BREATHE
The Respro® Bulletin Board is designed to keep you up to date with current views and issues relating to Air Pollution and its health implications in our daily lives.
WATCH OUR ANIMATION
TOP POSTS AND PAGES
- Follow Respro® Bulletin Board on WordPress.com
LOCAL AIR QUALITY
Click the map to find out about current air quality levels where you live.
WHY WEAR A MASK?
Essential features required of a mask to work properly: Why wear a mask?
For information on the products we provide please visit our website respro.com Respro® will ship your order of any product, any quantity to anywhere on the planet free of charge.
KEY POINTS TO A MASK
Three important points to look out for in an air pollution mask:
Key Points to a Mask
TIME TO CHANGE YOUR FILTER?
THERE ARE FOUR RESPRO® FILTER TYPES
HOW TO CHANGE THE FILTER
BUY NEW FILTERS
RESPRO® ON INSTAGRAM
Air Pollution Air Quality Asthma Beijing Boris Johnson California Canada China Delhi Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) diesel exhaust fumes EU - European Union Europe forest fire France Germany HAZE Health Effects of Air Pollution India Indonesia Iran King's College London London London Mayor Malaysia Nitrogen Dioxide NO2 NOx Ozone O3 Paris PM - Particulate Matter PM2.5 PM10 Research Respro® Masks FAQ Respro® Products Scotland Singapore Smog Sulfur Dioxide SO2 Thailand UK USA vehicle emissions wildfires World Heath Organization (WHO)
- Air Quality
- Australia & Oceania
- Exercise & Air Pollution
- Health Effects of Air Pollution
- Help & FAQs
- Latin America
- Medical Studies
- Middle East
- Research on Air Pollution in the UK
- Respro® How To Videos
- Respro® Mask Reviews
- Respro® Masks
- Respro® Products
- South Korea
- USA & Canada
- World News