Air pollution from traffic is endangering the health of unborn babies, according to a new study.
A team led by Imperial College London used national birth records to study more than 540,000 births in Greater London between 2006 and 2010.
"Since the vast majority of the most toxic vehicles on our roads are diesel vehicles and vans, the UK government should introduce a national policy of diesel vehicle removal and replacement to protect health." of children, both born and born. "
Professor Jonathan Grigg, Queen Mary University of London
Researchers calculated the average monthly concentrations of traffic-related pollutants by looking at the address of the mother's house at the time of birth. An analysis of the data found that increases in traffic-related air pollutants were associated with an increase of 2 to 6 percent from low birth weight and from 1 to 3 percent greater chance of being small for gestational age .
"The findings suggest that air pollution from traffic in London is negatively affecting fetal growth," the study authors concluded. "With the annual number of births expected to continue to rise in London, the absolute health burden will increase at the population level, unless the air quality in London improves."
Pneumonia and asthma
Pediatricians said the study reinforces the argument that a relatively short exposure of 9 months or less to vehicle exhaust emissions adversely affects fetal growth.
Jonathan Grigg, professor of respiratory and environmental pediatric medicine at Queen Mary University in London, said: "Children in London and other large cities areas currently inhale traffic-derived contaminants that increase the risk of pneumonia and asthma, and Hinder the growth of the lungs This study suggests that the damaging effects of air pollution begin long before birth.
"Since the vast majority of the most toxic vehicles on our roads are diesel vehicles and vans, The Government of the United Kingdom should introduce a national diesel vehicle & # 39; remove and replace & # 39; policy to protect the health of children, both born and unborn. "
The study, published in the BMJ, found no evidence that exposure to traffic noise was related to birth weight, but the authors said that "they can not rule out that an association could be observed in a study area with a wider range of noise exposures."
The researchers said the findings apply to other cities in the United Kingdom and Europe and call for policies to improve air quality in urban areas.