A recent study has been making headlines as it seems mother’s exposure to a number of things are seriously affecting fetal growth. While in the past these kinds of things were not as monitored now we are beginning to better understand things we wish we had long ago.

This study comes from researchers at the University of Aberdeen who reviewed data collected over the course of a decade. They found that exposure to nitrogen dioxide caused smaller fetal head sizes and drastically impacted the last three months of pregnancy. This study was published in the journal Environmental Research and was titled ‘A systematic review of associations between maternal exposures during pregnancy other than smoking and antenatal fetal measurements.’

Their results are listed as follows in their findings:

There were 451 abstracts identified and 36 papers were included of which maternal diet was the exposure of interest in 15, maternal ambient air exposure in 10, maternal alcohol in 3 and other exposures in 8. The first paper was published in 2006. Associations were present between exposures and fetal measurements in 18% of comparisons with second-trimester measurements and in 46% of comparisons with third-trimester measurements. In the third trimester, when an association was present, the reduced head size was most commonly (58%) associated with current or previous maternal exposure, with the reduced length being least commonly (32%) associated and reduced weight being intermediate (52%). In the third trimester, increased maternal nitrogen dioxide exposure was associated with reduced head size was associated with in all seven studies identified and reduced fetal weight in five out of six studies.

This for those who may not quite understand meaning that there is a very clear presence of toxicity regarding maternal exposure. Research in the past has suggested this but now we are much more firm footed. It is also important to note that there has been research done that proved air pollution in itself also impacts the cardiovascular systems of fetuses as they develop within our bodies.

Professor Steve Turner who led the investigation told Press and Journal’s website as follows in regards to these findings:

“In our research, we looked at all the studies that measured the effects of mothers’ exposures to everyday substances including air pollutants, alcohol, and diet on the size of the unborn baby, measured through ultrasound from halfway through the pregnancy and onwards.”

“The seven studies where air pollution was measured and linked to fetal size were from different geographical areas of the world, including Australia, the USA and several countries in Europe.”

“However in all of the studies, the evidence was clear that, in the third trimester, in particular, exposure to nitrogen dioxide reduced fetal growth.”

“Our research has shown that the link between exposure and fetal growth is apparent well before birth, so any potential interventions need to happen in the early stages of pregnancy.”

“Furthermore, the findings also suggest that public health measures are urgently required to minimize pregnant mothers’ exposures to nitrogen dioxide.”

These findings are not something that we should be ignoring. From here we need to figure out how to reduce the presence of pollution in the air so that this kind of thing is not happening on the scale it likely is. For more information on this kind of pollution please feel free to check out the video below. Nitrogen dioxide is surely just one of the many things causing harm to our developing fetus’ and we need to do more research and make some serious changes.

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