Children who were exposed to higher levels of air pollution during the third trimester of their mother’s pregnancy had a higher risk of elevated blood pressure in childhood, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension.
Fine particulate matter of 2.5 microns or less (PM2.5) is a form of air pollution produced by motor vehicles and the burning of oil, coal and biomass, and has been shown to enter the circulatory system and negatively affect human health. Previous studies found, direct exposure to fine air pollution was associated with high blood pressure in both children and adults and is a major contributor to illness and premature death worldwide.
“Ours is one of the first studies to show breathing polluted air during pregnancy may have a direct negative influence on the cardiovascular health of the offspring during childhood,” said Dr. Noel T. Mueller, senior author of the study and an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. “High blood pressure during childhood often leads to high blood pressure in adulthood and hypertension is the leading cause of cardiovascular disease.”