UGA scientist to study effect of air quality on unborn babies

September 23, 2003

A pregnant woman walks down the street of a large city. She doesn't know it, but the air she's breathing could be hurting her unborn baby.

From recent studies in many countries, scientists suspect a relationship between exposure to air pollution and health problems like preterm births, low birth weights, poor fetal development and mortality, said Luke Naeher, an environmental epidemiologist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Scientists know the air pollution in large cities can aggravate or cause health problems in children and adults. But how can it affect a baby inside a mother's womb? Naeher wants to answer this question.

In the summer of 2002, Naeher studied the personal air pollution exposure of 45 pregnant women in Trujillo, Peru. His co-investigator was Manuel Aguilar Villalobos, director of the Asociacion de Aire Ambient in Lima, Peru.

Based on this research, the American Chemistry Council has awarded Naeher a $100,000 grant to expand his research in Trujillo.

Naeher will measure the personal pollution exposure of 100 pregnant Trujillo women (50 from urban and 50 from rural areas) during their pregnancies.

He and his team will measure air pollution levels inside the homes of the pregnant women and at one urban and one rural site. The team will collect blood and urine samples from the women during their pregnancies and postdeliveries. And they'll collect samples of meconium, a baby's first feces, and umbilical cord blood from the newborns. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will analyze the samples.

"This study will help us understand the magnitude and potential impact of prenatal exposure to a range of environmental pollutants," Naeher said.

Trujillo is a city of about 750,000 people in a developing country. It has higher levels of air pollution than most U.S. cities. Peruvian standards and regulations on vehicle emissions, the leading cause of air pollution, are weakly enforced. And they're 30 years behind those in the United States, he said.

In many cases, homes in Trujillo offer no escape from air pollution. Many people there use wood or kerosene stoves to heat and cook inside homes with little ventilation.

"The indoor environment smoke exposure generated from these stoves is orders of magnitude higher than levels typically seen in U.S. homes," he said.

Naeher hopes the study will lead to simple economical and cultural changes that can reduce air pollution and protect the population of Trujillo.

The data, he said, can be used to understand the effects of air pollution on pregnant women and unborn babies in the United States and other countries, too.
-end-


University of Georgia

Related Air Pollution Articles from Brightsurf:

How air pollution affects homeless populations
When air quality worsens, either from the smoke and ozone of summer or the inversion of winter, most of us stay indoors.

Exploring the neurological impact of air pollution
Air pollution has become a fact of modern life, with a majority of the global population facing chronic exposure.

Spotting air pollution with satellites, better than ever before
Researchers from Duke University have devised a method for estimating the air quality over a small patch of land using nothing but satellite imagery and weather conditions.

Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy is associated with growth delays
A new study by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) has found an association between exposure to air pollution during pregnancy and delays in physical growth in the early years after birth.

Nearly half of US breathing unhealthy air; record-breaking air pollution in nine cities
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of air pollution on lung health is of heightened concern.

Air pollution linked to dementia and cardiovascular disease
People continuously exposed to air pollution are at increased risk of dementia, especially if they also suffer from cardiovascular diseases, according to a study at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden published in the journal JAMA Neurology.

New framework will help decide which trees are best in the fight against air pollution
A study from the University of Surrey has provided a comprehensive guide on which tree species are best for combating air pollution that originates from our roads -- along with suggestions for how to plant these green barriers to get the best results.

Air pollution is one of the world's most dangerous health risks
Researchers calculate that the effects of air pollution shorten the lives of people around the world by an average of almost three years.

The world faces an air pollution 'pandemic'
Air pollution is responsible for shortening people's lives worldwide on a scale far greater than wars and other forms of violence, parasitic and insect-born diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and smoking, according to a study published in Cardiovascular Research.

Air pollution in childhood linked to schizophrenia
Children who grow up in areas with heavy air pollution have a higher risk of developing schizophrenia.

Read More: Air Pollution News and Air Pollution Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.