Pollution \'spurs development of asthma in the womb\'
Feb 16 2009
Pregnant women who are exposed to traffic pollution may be at greater risk of giving birth to a child which suffers from asthma than women who are not, it has been discovered.
A study undertaken by the Centre for Environmental Genetics at the University of Cincinnati examined the umbilical blood of 56 babies and found that traffic pollution can alter the development of asthma-associated genes, reported the BBC.
Children then begin to develop symptoms of asthma when aged around five years old, the study, which is the first that suggests pollution manipulates genes, discovered.
Dr Shuk-mei Ho, leader of the study, explained: "We know that children living in polluted areas have a higher incidence of asthma but what we didnt know was it was affecting a gene."
A similar five-year-long study undertaken in China by researchers in Jiangsu revealed last month that one in ten birth defects in the country is caused by atmospheric pollution.
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