February 19, 2014
WESTWOOD (CBSLA.com) — Pregnant women living near
freeways or other places with high concentrations of air pollution may
be at greater risk of delivering a baby with a smaller head, according
to researchers at UCLA.
KNX 1070′s Ed Mertz reports a recent study could shed new light on a possible link between air pollution and fetal growth.
The findings, which are expected to be published in the April 2014 issue
of the science journal Environmental Research, were collected from a
survey of more than 500 pregnant women between 1993 and 1996 whose homes
were located near pollution-monitoring sources.
Based on ultrasound measurements, researchers found newborns who were
exposed to traffic-derived air pollution saw a reduction in the
diameter of the developing fetus’ skull of as much as one millimeter at
approximately 19, 29 and 37 weeks gestation.
The heads of newborns exposed during late-term pregnancy were also
more likely to develop slower and smaller, according to researchers.
Dr. Beate Ritz,
Professor and Vice Chair of Epidemiology at UCLA, said while the
difference in head size was slight compared to other babies, it remains
significant enough to potentially have a lifelong impact.
“It might tell us that, actually, these children also could have some
impact on their brain function, possibly on their cognition, possibly
on worse outcomes,” Ritz said.
Although data compiled in the study suggested evidence that the
height of babies might also be impacted by pollution, Ritz said that
conclusion was not yet statistically clear.