Pregnant women should be aware that the air they breath travels can cross their placenta and to their unborn baby.
Air pollution – such a car exhaust particles – could be harmful to a fetus, a new study published in Nature Communications has found.
Soot pollution particles can cross into the placenta
Belgian researchers looked at placentas from 5 pre-term and 23 full-term births and found that black carbon particles were present on the fetal side inside the placentas, near to the umbilical cord.
10 of the mothers in the study lived close to busy roads and had the highest levels of particles compared to those who lived further away from traffic.
“As the fetal organs are under full development, this might have some health risks,” says Professor Tim Narwot, from Hasselt University in Belgium.
“Our results demonstrate that the human placental barrier is not impenetrable for particles.
“Further research will have to show whether the particles cross the placenta and reach the fetus and if that represents a potential mechanism explaining the detrimental health effects of pollution, from early life onwards.”