Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Prenatal Exposure to Traffic Pollution May Increase Asthma Risk

We are learning more and more about how life in Mommy's womb affects our health later on in life.

A recently published study in PLoS One has supported an association between maternal exposure to airborne byproducts of burning fuel (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and a parental report of asthma symptoms before age 5.

Turns out that prenatal exposure to this type of air pollution is associated with an alteration of certain DNA sequences- which are, in turn, associated with higher odds of reported asthma symptoms.

Although this study only shows an association, and does not confirm causality, it is very interesting. We already knew that air pollution is a key contributor to asthma exacerbations, but now we have evidence that traffic-related pollution may be contributing to the development of the disease itself. This may help explain why inner-city children have such high rates of asthma.

In any case, we now have yet another reason to contact our state and federal representatives and urge them to push for more stringent vehicle emissions standards.

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