Air pollution is one of the leading causes of respiratory health problems across the globe. The health problems have been rampant among children and adults. However, recent findings have shown the adverse effects of air pollution to fetuses. The situation is so dire that that particles have been found to reach the fetal side of the placenta!
The study has shown that polluted air breathed by the mother can diffuse its way to reach the placenta. Air pollution comes from particles released from motor vehicles, industries and even smoking. The study, which examined many sample placentas, found these particles lodged in every millimeter square of it.
In the recent years , there has been a direct co-relationship between air pollution and birth defects. In this case, the polluted particles were attributed to premature births and low birth weights. The particles were also identified to cause inflammation to both the mother and the unborn child.
Air pollution has long life effects to the unborn children. The children are likely to be born with defects that will not only affect their future but also reduce their chances of survival. The defects occurs since the fetal stage is the most crucial step in development. It is the moment in which all vital organs develop.
Sadly , air pollution is harming these delicate organs and all other cells in the human body. Billions of these particles will continue to exist in body even in places such as the blood brain barrier. Due to this, it is estimated that over 90 percent of people are living in highly polluted areas.
The study , which was published in the Journal Nature Communications, reviewed the placentas of 25 non-smoking women from Hasselt. It concluded that despite the availability of the particles being lower than the EU limit, their capacity was still higher than the WHO recommended limit.
The number of nano particles found in the placentas was almost equal to the amount of pollution the mother was exposed. It was determined that a mother living near a road , had 20,000 nano-particles per cubic millimetre in the placentas while those living further away, had 10,000 per cubic millimetre.
On the other hand, Placentas from miscarriages were also examined. These particles were dated back to 12 weeks of age of the fetuses. The nano particles problem is so rampant as it continues to affect children even in their school going days. An average of 10 million particles were detected in school going children between the ages of 9-12 years.
However, it is quite difficult to base these finding on any particular mode of transmission as everyone breathes in air to live. Recently , WHO has determined air pollution as a global health problem that needs to be addressed. It is the role of governments and other institutions to champion changes to foster the reduction of air pollution.