Air pollution: What happens to infants with mothers breathing impure air?

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Air pollution: What happens to infants with mothers breathing impure air?
Air pollution: What happens to infants with mothers breathing impure air?

New Delhi : It is no hidden secret that pollution is a reason behind several health diseases; and a new study has revealed its adverse effects on the infants born to mothers exposed to polluted air.

Mothers who are exposed to air pollution give birth to infants who showed reduced cardiac response to stress, said a study published in the Journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Variation in heart rate in accordance to stress is essential for maintaining optimal functioning of cardiovascular, respiratory and digestive systems.

Decreased heart rate variability, as observed in the study, could later result in mental and physical health problems.

Earlier, air pollution's negative effects were found to lead to medical and psychological conditions such as heart disease, asthma, allergies and mood or behavioural disorder.

The observation in the research has been done over a sample of 237 Boston based mothers and their infants and used satellite data and air pollution meter to determine the level of pollution mothers were exposed to during their pregnancy days.

By studying the babies' heart rate and respiration at age six months, researchers found that the higher the level of the mother's exposure to air pollution in pregnancy, the less variability in the infant's heart rate in response to a stress challenge.

"These findings, in combination with increasing worldwide exposure to particulate air pollution, highlight the importance of examining early-life exposure to air pollution in relation to negative medical, developmental, and psychological outcomes," said senior author Rosalind Wright, MD, MPH, Dean for Translational Biomedical Research, and Professor of Pediatrics, Environmental Medicine and Public Health, and Medicine (Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine), at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

"Identifying exposures that disrupt key processes such as heart rate response will lead to prevention strategies early in life when they can have the greatest impact," said first author, Whitney Cowell, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine.