Study: Smog Exposure Before Birth Lowers Baby’s I.Q.

ATLANTA — Pregnant women are often paranoid about their pregnancies. Now a study released this week gives them something else to watch out for.

That study linked pregnant women’s exposure to smog and air pollution to lower IQ in their babies. How concerned pregnant women should be?

Mary Hadley Ozburn is 36 weeks pregnant with her third child — her second boy. Both she and the baby are ready.

“You wanted this baby out since, what, 32 weeks?, asked her OB/GYN Dr. Michael Randell.

“Yeah!” she confirmed.

As anxious as they both may be, they will not be received into an entirely welcoming environment.

“The study’s interesting,” said Dr. Randell. “I think it supports other data that has come out showing that pollution can affect developing fetuses.”

There’s a growing number of studies that link exposure to smog in pregnant women and slowed development in their babies.

“Sure it makes sensen” Dr. Randell said. “Pollutants are brought in through the lungs. From the lungs it goes to the bloodstream…cross the placenta. And then the baby’s exposed to it.”

Mary Hadley Ozburn has heard about this study. She’s concerned — a bit.

“I might take a few more precautions being pregnant”, she said, “but certainly I wouldn’t change a lot about the way I live my life.”

For Randell, this study is one more item to add to the list of things to watch out for.

“If,” Randell said, “you are in an environment where you are near a lot of exhaust from automobiles for example, that’s something that you’d probably want to change, while you’re pregnant.”

Randell would not advise a pregnant woman to wear a surgical mask when outside. He says there is no evidence that a surgical mask is effective in blocking smog from entering the lungs.

This particular study did not have the rigorous controls that some do. Still, in concert with other studies, doctor Randell says it’s at least worth doctors and their patients talking about it.

Maybe after that conversation Mary Hadley Ozburn’s baby wouldn’t be quite so anxious.

Related reading:
Kids’ Lower IQ Scores Linked to Prenatal Pollution

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