Study shows air pollution linked to pediatric cancers

by Missy Jaramillo

Study shows air pollution linked to pediatric cancers

During pregnancy, expectant mothers want to do everything in their power to ensure healthy fetal development. However, there are only so many environmental factors that can be controlled. Air pollution is one that can be difficult to reduce, and the side effects of it may result in health complications after the child is born, according to a new study revealed at the annual American Association for Cancer Research meeting.

Julia Heck, Ph.D., assistant researcher in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Public Health, worked with her colleagues to hone in on the effects of pollution on baby development. The researchers examined 3,590 children from the California Cancer Registry born between 1998 and 2007. They found that women who were exposed to vehicle-related air pollution during pregnancy had an increased rate of giving birth to children at risk of two rare cancers, retinoblastoma and acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

"This is the first study that's ever been reported on air pollution as it relates to rarer pediatric cancers, so it needs to be replicated in other states or in other countries," Heck said. "It would be interesting to determine if there are specific pollutants like benzene or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that are driving these associations."

Further research needs to be conducted, and the experts acknowledge that they are unsure of when heightened levels of air pollution should be avoided during the pregnancy calendar

Pollution and its effects on pregnancy
It's no secret that it's difficult to avoid pollution while pregnant, especially if you live in an urban area. However, there are a few ways you can effectively reduce how much you breathe in while you're in your own home and community. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends steering clear of areas where secondhand smoke is present in addition to avoiding smoking yourself.

It might also be in your best interest to check on air quality conditions in your area if you live in a region that has high levels of pollution such as a city. Smog alerts can let you know whether it's better to stay indoors during certain times of the day for the sake of your unborn child. Taking these precautionary measures can ensure the health of your future son or daughter.

Have you lived in an area with high levels of air pollution while pregnant? How do you confront these environmental issues? Leave your feedback in the comments section!