A new study led by researchers at the University of Washington School of Public Health suggests that pregnant women exposed to higher levels of air pollutants may have children with lower IQs.
The study was a collaboration with the University of California, San Francisco, as part of the ECHO PATHWAYS consortium, a national initiative to investigate how the environment influences neurodevelopment and asthma risk in children. Findings were published online June 13 in Environmental Research.
Researchers focused on 1,005 pregnant women in Shelby County, Tenn., and assessed the IQs of their offspring between the ages of 4 and 6. They found that exposure to PM10 was negatively associated with IQ. Children whose mothers were in the highest 10 percent of exposure had IQ scores that were 2.5 points lower than those in the lower 10 percent. The study also found that folate – found naturally in leafy vegetables and beans, and is recommended for all pregnant women in its synthetic form as folic acid – may offset the toxic effects of PM10.
First author was Dr. Christine Loftus, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington School of Public Health and project director of the ECHO PATHWAYS study. Co-authors include Ms. Marnie Hazlehurst, Dr. Adam Szpiro, Ms. Yu Ni and Dr. Catherine Karr, also from the UW School of Public Health; Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana of the UW and the Seattle Children’s Research Institute; Dr. Frances Tylavsky of the University of Tennessee; Dr. Nicole Bush of UC San Francisco; and Dr. Kecia Carroll of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on July 26