Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


In utero exposure to urban air pollutants can increase risk


Prenatal exposure to air pollutants in New York City can adversely affect child development, according to the results of a study released today by the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Previous studies have shown that the same air pollutants can reduce fetal growth (both weight and head circumference at birth), but this study, which examined a group of the same children at three years of age, is the first to reveal that those pollutants can also affect cognitive development during childhood.

The study will be published online Monday, April 24, 2006, and can be accessed at the following URL:

Investigators at the Center studied a sample of 183 three-year-old children of non-smoking African-American and Dominican women residing in the neighborhoods of Washington Heights, Central Harlem, and the South Bronx. They found that exposure during pregnancy to combustion-related urban air pollutants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were linked to significantly lower scores on mental development tests and more than double the risk of developmental delay at age three. Such delay in cognitive development is indicative of greater risk for performance deficits in language, reading, and math in the early school years.

In the study, the mothers’ exposure during pregnancy to varying levels of airborne PAHs was measured by personal air monitoring. PAHs enter the environment when combustion occurs – such as from car, truck, or bus engines, residential heating, power generation, or tobacco smoking. Following inhalation by the mother, the pollutants can be transferred across the placenta to reach the fetus. Children were tested at age three using a standardized test of mental and psychomotor development.

The study is part of a broader multi-year research project. "The Mothers and Children Study in New York City," started in 1998, which examines the health effects of exposure of pregnant women and babies to indoor and outdoor air pollutants, pesticides, and allergens.

"These findings are of concern, because compromised mental performance in the preschool years is an important precursor of subsequent educational performance deficits," said Dr. Frederica Perera, DrPH director of the Center and lead investigator. "Fortunately, airborne PAH concentrations can be reduced by currently available pollution controls, greater energy efficiency, and the use of alternative energy sources."

"Identifying and attending to developmental delays in the preschool years is likely to be cost-effective and improve cognitive development," said Dr. Virginia Rauh, ScD, co-investigator and co-author of the study, "since the skills children bring with them to school not only affect educational outcomes but also determine how schools must spend their resources."

In this study, the children who were exposed in the womb to the highest levels of PAHs scored on average 5.7 points (6.3%) lower on cognitive tests than the less exposed children; and their risk of being developmentally delayed was 2.9-times greater than that of children who had lower prenatal exposure; both results were statistically significant.

The investigators controlled for other exposures that might have contributed to developmental problems such as socioeconomic factors, exposure to tobacco smoke, lead, and other environmental contaminants.

Randee Sacks Levine | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Scientists develop tiny tooth-mounted sensors that can track what you eat
22.03.2018 | Tufts University

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Modular safety concept increases flexibility in plant conversion

22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>