Pollution can reach babies in the womb and could damage developing organs, scientists say | UK News

Foetus in womb

Particles of air pollution can enter the organs of fetuses as they develop in the womb, potentially damaging development, a study suggested.

Scientists from the University of Aberdeen and Hasselt University in Belgium found evidence of black carbon particles – also known as soot particles – in blood in the umbilical cord.

This in turn shows that they can cross the placenta.

Air pollution has been linked to “pre-term birth, low birth weight babies and impaired brain development”, scientists said.

Key organ development takes place while the baby is developing in the uterus – and the particles can be seen in the first trimester of pregnancy, researchers have warned.

During their study, they examined 60 mothers and their babies in Aberdeen and the Grampian region in Scotland.

They also analyzed tissue samples from 36 fetuses that had been aborted between seven and 20 weeks of gestation.

Soot particles were present in all the mothers and newborns – and in the liver, lungs and brains of the aborted fetuses.

All tissue samples analyzed contained black carbon particles.

Black carbon is one of many particles and gases that are emitted when diesel, coal and other biomass fuels are burned.

The number of foundations depends on the amount of air pollution the mother was exposed to during pregnancy.

It is said to be the first time black carbon nanoparticles have been found in developing fetuses.

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Writing in the journal Lancet Planetary Health, the authors of the study wrote: “We found that maternally inhaled carbonaceous air pollution particles can cross the placenta and then translate into human fetal organs during pregnancy.

“These findings are particularly concerning because this window of exposure is key to organ development.”

Professor Tim Nawrot, from the University of Hasselt, said: “We know that exposure to air pollution during pregnancy and childhood is associated with still births, pre-term births, low birth weight babies and impaired brain development, with consequences that span the entire keep alive

“This means that air quality regulations must recognize this transmission during pregnancy and act to protect the most sensitive stages of human development.”

Professor Paul Fowler, from the University of Aberdeen, added: “We were all concerned that if nanoparticles got into the foetus, they could directly affect their development in the womb.

“What we show for the first time is that nanoparticles of black carbon air pollution not only enter the placenta from the first and second trimester, but also find their way into the organs of the developing fetus, including the liver and the lungs.”

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