Car Exhaust Can Hurt Unborn Babies, Study Finds
The Canadian website Autos.ca reports researchers at the University of Sunderland in northeast England have linked car exhaust to children being born with respiratory ailments such as asthma and allergies.
Lead researcher Mohammad Sahmssian and his team tested the lung functions of 1,397 children ages 7 to 10 in Cairo, one of the world's most congested cities.
Researchers discovered a high prevalence of asthma, wheezing, eczema and hay fever symptoms. They also found air pollution causes two million premature deaths worldwide each year. Autos.ca reports Sahmssian is calling on the British Department of Health and Research Funding Council to conduct more surveys in major cities such as London, Manchester and Newcastle.
"We have identified that pollutants such as nitrogen and sulphur dioxide, as well as particle matter from vehicle exhausts and road dust, is linked to the onset of asthma," Sahmssian tells the website.
"The risk can start from the time a child is in the womb, as the placenta does not offer protection to mothers exposed to pollutants," he adds. "Pollutants entering the fetal circulation have a significant impact on growth and development. There have also been cases of babies born with retardation, morbidity and low birth weight. Children in homes near roads with heavy traffic also have increased risk of new onset asthma, incidence of wheeze, risk of recurrent dry coughs, hospitalization and school absenteeism."
Sahmssian cites studies in California that show when air pollution was reduced, annual asthma-related emergency visits and hospitalization decreased from 22 percent to 6 percent, and bronchitis decreased from 40 to 20 percent.
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