In a new study released this week, researchers have for the first time linked air pollution exposure before birth with lower IQ scores in childhood, further supporting evidence that pollution is dangerous to children...even in the womb.
The study analyzed 249 children and pregnant women in the New York City area. In the study, the women wore backpack air monitors for 48 hours during the last few months of pregnancy. The women chosen for the study lived in mostly low-income neighborhoods in northern Manhattan and the South Bronx. They had varying levels of exposure to urban air pollution, mostly from car, bus and truck exhaust.
After the children were born, researchers continued to monitor their progress, and at age 5, before the children started school, they were given IQ tests. Those exposed to the most pollution before birth scored on average four to five points lower than children with less exposure.
That's a big enough difference that it could affect children's performance in school, said Frederica Perera, the study's lead author and director of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health. This study could explain why children from lower income neighborhoods often do worse academically than children from wealthier families.
The study's researchers said they plan to continuing monitoring and testing the children to learn whether school performance is affected and if there are any additional long-term effects.
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