Air pollution can lead to fetuses developing black carbon particles in their organs as early as in the first trimester according to a new research.
The research indicated that pregnant mothers who are exposed to air pollution, specifically black carbon nanoparticles birthed babies with the same degree of black carbon particles. In addition the newborns placentas also had black carbon particles
The research was conducted by Scientists at the University of Aberdeen in the U.K and Hasselt University in Belgium. It was conducted on 60 mother-neonate pairs, which included infants under four weeks old and was published in Lancet Planetary Health.
The research involved examining black carbon, a sooty black material which is released into the air from fossil-fuel burning sources such as internal combustion engines and coal-fired power plants, to see if the air pollutant could reach the fetus.
Indeed they found that black carbon particles were in cord blood, confirming that these particles can cross the placenta and enter into the fetal circulation system. Cord blood is the blood that remains in the placenta and umbilical cord after the birth of a baby.
As a consequence the pollution was then found to get into the fetus’ developing organs, such as liver, lungs, and brain.
Although maternal exposure to air pollution during pregnancy has shown to lead to negative birth outcomes causing disease later in the child’s life, this study is the first to confirm that these particles actually make their way into the fetus.