Air Pollution Shown to Harm Babies in Utero
Children and developing babies are most at risk when it comes to air pollution. Learn what you can do to help improve air quality within the walls of your own home.
When we think of air pollution and its associated harm, we often think of large cities and the outside world: wide, congested highways; large factories; and smog-filled skylines. The truth is much of the air we breathe can be polluted and bad for our health, especially for a baby in utero.
We’ve explored the fact that toxic materials in a nursery or home can adversely impact little ones due to their vulnerable nervous systems and the same is true for the impact of the air a young child breathes, as well as a pregnant woman. Some of life’s most critical growth is happening during the eight months in utero, so the type of air a pregnant woman is exposed to, and the entire environment that surrounds her, is very important. Even small changes to the sensitive, yet complex, processes that occur during the fetal period can trigger changes in the body that have lasting effects on an individual’s health. Just as lead is most toxic when a fetus or infant is exposed to it or ingests it, the effects of air pollution are most significant on young, vulnerable bodies and their biological processes. Air pollution can cause impaired placental blood flow for the fetus and various studies have linked air pollutants with poor pregnancy outcomes, such as miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, birth defects, low-birth weight (LBW), and babies that are small for gestational age (SGA).
What makes air pollution so hazardous for children specifically?
During early childhood, many of the body’s vital systems and organs are continuing to develop and mature, such as the brain, lungs, and immune system. Until approximately age six, the cell lining of the respiratory tract is still permeable and therefore susceptible to inhaled toxins. Children also have a larger lung surface area in relation to their body compared to adults. Premature infants born with immature lungs are even more vulnerable to environmental threats as they grow. At a time when brain development is so rapid and critical, many studies have shown that particulate matter in air pollution can have effects on brain functioning and, as a result, cause neurodevelopment disorders such as learning disabilities, alter brain size, and contribute to the loss of brain proteins and chemical transmitters.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air levels of many pollutants can be 2-5 times higher than outdoor levels (and, at times, more than 100 times greater!). This is particularly alarming because most people spend as much as 90% of their time indoors. Burning kerosene, wood or oil; tobacco products; releases from household cleaners; pesticides; building materials; and radon all play a role in this shocking statistic.
Air inhaled into the lungs can be the pathway for toxins into the body. As the field of epigenetics grows and we better understand how the relationship between environmental factors and changes in the genetic code can affect generations, we know that we are affected by the enviornment and air that surrounded our grandparents. In turn, our grandchildren will be affected by the enviroment and air that surrounds us. Protect your home and try to keep it clean with pure, tested products you can find in our Pure Living shop. Dust regularly as toxic dust within the home can be harmful to little lungs. Indoor house plants also act as simple, effective purifying agents for your space. Above all, breathe easy: there are always simple steps you can take to improve the air quality in your home.
Additional reporting source: http://www.sltrib.com/
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