Children exposed to high levels of air pollution in utero during the third trimester of pregnancy have an increased risk for high blood pressure (hypertension), according to a study from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.
Previous research has shown that fine particulates – particles in the air from motor vehicle exhaust and the burning of coal, oil, wood, and other organic matter – can enter the circulatory system and have adverse effects on health. In fact, air pollution is a primary cause of illness and premature death worldwide.
This study involved 1,293 mothers and their children who were part of the Boston Birth Cohort study. The children’s blood pressure was measured at annual physical examinations from the ages of 3 to 9, and the researchers adjusted for factors that can affect childhood blood pressure, such as birth weight and maternal smoking. Children exposed to high levels of air pollution before birth were 61 percent more likely to have high blood pressure compared to those exposed to the lowest levels of air pollution, according to the researchers.
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