Air pollution during pregnancy causes high BP in kids

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New Delhi : Do you know any women going through pregnancy period? If so then do alert them about the rising level of air pollution and be sure to advise them to avoid going to those particular areas which are prone to polluted air. A study by U.S researchers warns that inhaling polluted air during pregnancy can result in high blood pressure in kids, at their early age.

Women who inhale polluted air during pregnancy may be more likely to have children who develop high blood pressure, a U.S. study suggests.

Researchers examined the fact on 1,293 mother-child pairs and assessed kids’ blood pressure at checkups from ages 3 to 9 years. When they sorted children into three groups from highest to lowest levels of exposure to PM 2.5 in the womb, children in the highest-exposure group were 61 percent more likely to have high blood pressure than kids with the lowest exposure.

“We believe that when pregnant women breathe air with high levels of fine particulate matter, it causes an inflammatory response that alters genetic expression and fetal growth and development, on the pathway to high blood pressure in childhood,” said study co-author Noel Mueller of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

“I think the take home message for pregnant women is not that you should change your residence, but rather that you might consider avoiding highly polluted areas during pregnancy, particularly during heavy bouts of physical activity, which is important to keep up during pregnancy,” Mueller said by email.

High blood pressure is the base for cardiovascular disease and a main reason for the cause of disabilities which leads to an estimated 7.5 million deaths worldwide each year, researchers note in the journal of Hypertension.

In the study, children appeared to have an increased risk of high blood pressure when they were exposed to average PM 2.5 levels of at least 13 micrograms per cubic meter of air (ug/m3) during the final three months of pregnancy. That’s slightly higher than the limit set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of 12 ug/m3.

Children in the group with the highest exposure to air pollution in the womb experienced PM 2.5 levels of 11.80 to 28.81 ug/m3 during the third trimester of pregnancy, the study found.

Kids with the lowest exposure had third trimester PM 2.5 levels of 3.79 to 9.57 ug/m3, well within the range permitted by the EPA.

Each 5 ug/m3 increase in PM 2.5 exposure in the womb was associated with a 3.39 percentile increase in what’s known as systolic blood pressure, the “top number” that represents the pressure blood exerts against artery walls when the heart beats.

“If maternal and early life pollution exposures increase the long-term risk of high blood pressure, then reducing early-life pollution exposure through regulation and through local and regional efforts may help protect children from having higher blood pressure in childhood, and may improve long term cardiovascular and cerebrovascular health,” Dr. Diane Gold, author of an accompanying editorial and a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, said by email.