ATS: Effects of Prenatal Pollution Exposure Persist

Maternal pollutant exposure has lasting effect on lung function development in children with asthma

TUESDAY, May 22 (HealthDay News) -- Maternal exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter <10 microns per cubic meter (PM10) during pregnancy can have persistent effects on lung function development in children with asthma, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Thoracic Society, held from May 18 to 23 in San Francisco.

Amy M. Padula, Ph.D., from the University of California at Berkeley, and colleagues obtained pollutant concentrations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Aerometric Information Retrieval System, based on geocoded maternal self-reported residences during pregnancy. Monthly average pollutant concentrations were estimated from 24-hour averages, and summaries were calculated for the entire pregnancy and each trimester. The association between air pollutants and pulmonary function growth, as defined by repeated measures of pulmonary function tests between the ages of 6 and 15 years, was assessed.

Based on 1,192 observations for 162 children, the researchers found that NO2 exposure during the first and second trimesters correlated with reduced pulmonary function growth in girls and boys. NO2 exposure during the first and second trimesters correlated with lower forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) growth and lower forced expiratory flow at 25 percent (FEF25) growth, respectively, in girls. NO2 exposure during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy in boys correlated with reduced forced vital capacity (FVC) growth. In girls, PM10 exposure during the first trimester correlated with lower FEV1 and FVC growth. In boys, PM10 exposure during the third trimester correlated with lower peak expiratory flow and FEF25 growth.

"In this study, we found that prenatal exposures to airborne particles and the pollutant nitrogen dioxide adversely affect pulmonary function growth among asthmatic children between 6 and 15 years of age," Padula said in a statement. "This analysis adds to the evidence that maternal exposure to ambient air pollutants can have persistent effects on lung function development in children with asthma."

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