Exposure to air pollution just before or after conception raises risk of birth defects

December 11, 2017

CINCINNATI -- Women exposed to air pollution just prior to conception or during the first month of pregnancy face an increased risk of their children being born with birth defects, such as cleft lip or palate or abnormal hearts.

Although the increased risk is modest, the potential impact on a population basis is noteworthy because all pregnant women have some amount of exposure.

"The most susceptible time of exposure appears to be the one month before and after conception," says Emily DeFranco, DO, a physician at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and senior author of the study. "Public health efforts should continue to highlight the importance of minimizing population-level exposure to harmful particulate matter in the air."

Dr. DeFranco and her colleagues examined fine particulate matter, which is a significant health hazard because these tiny particles can deposit deep into the lower airways and air sacs within the lungs and enter the circulatory system. Fine particulate matter is a mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets that get into the air and, once inhaled, can negatively affect many aspects of a person's health.

The study is published online in The Journal of Pediatrics.

To conduct the study, the researchers used birth certificate data from the Ohio Department of Health and particulate matter data from the US Environmental Protection Agency's 57 monitoring stations throughout Ohio. They linked the geographic coordinates of the mother's residence for each birth with the nearest monitoring station and calculated average exposures. They then estimated the association between abnormalities at birth and the mother's exposure to increased levels of fine particulate matter in the air during pregnancy.

Dr. DeFranco says there are inherent limitations of observational studies such as this but that it provides a good foundation on which future studies can build. Birth defects affect three percent of all births in the United States.
-end-
The researchers were funded by the National Institutes of Health (R01-HL 111829), (P30ES006096), (RC4ES019755) and (R01ES020349). Additional research support was provided by the Perinatal Institute at Cincinnati Children's and the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center Ohio Collaborative.

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

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.