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How Air Pollution Impacts Fetal Cardiovascular System?

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Published on : Mar 12, 2019

Whenever we talk about air pollution, we think of how it affects our health. However, it poses a greater threat to pregnant women and consequently, the fetus. A study by Rutgers’s researchers states, “Microscopic particles in air pollution inhaled by pregnant women may damage fetal cardiovascular development.” What a mother inhales directly affects her circulatory system. This in turn impacts the blood supplied to the fetus.

Exposure to Pollutants can Impact Growth during Adulthood  

This study says that the early first trimester and late third trimester are the critical periods during which pollutants may affect the mother’s and fetus’ cardiovascular systems. Scientists studied rats to understand how pollutants affect the circulatory system. Researchers exposed these rats to nano-sized titanium dioxide aerosols, a surrogate for particles typically found in polluted air.

The results say that exposure to pollutants early in gestation specifically affects the main artery and umbilical vein. Moreover, Exposure to pollutants in the later stage resulted in restricted blood flow from the mother to the fetus. Further, it affects the size of fetus since it prevents nutrient supply from the mother to child. This can continue to affect the child during adulthood.

Based on these findings, Phoebe Stapleton, assistant professor at Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy said pregnant women and those undergoing fertility treatment should avoid areas known for high air pollution. Further, she stated that pregnant women should also monitor the indoor air quality. Exposure to pollutants can also lead to pregnancy complications such as intrauterine growth restriction.

By 2025, the annual global production of nanosize titanium dioxide particles could reach 2.5 million metric tons. Nanotechnology definitely has answers to air pollution. However, according to Stapleton not much is known about how these nanoparticles affect people at all stages of life.