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Aurora magazine

Prenatal exposure to smog alters the brain

A study by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) has identified a link between prenatal exposure to smog and brain abnormalities. According to the researchers, breathing much smog during pregnancy could cause alterations in the fetus. These would result in cognitive difficulties during childhood.

The study showed for the first time a link between smog and difficulty in inhibiting the response. Prenatal exposure to fine particles seems to be connected to a thinner cortex. Here are our inhibitory brakes and the ability to control impulses. The anomalies in those areas can be linked to attention deficit and predisposition to addictions.

The researchers followed a group of Dutch pregnant women and then their 783 children. They measured air pollution levels at home and in areas frequented by expectant mothers. In particular, they focused on the levels of nitrogen dioxide and fine particles. Between 6 and 10 years, they also monitored children's brain development using imaging techniques.

Combining the collected data, the researchers found a link between the levels of fine dust and the presence of anomalies. Most women have spent gestation in areas considered healthy. Nevertheless, even the average levels have proved to be harmful to the fetus. According to the researchers, this should push us to review the current levels of air pollution in our cities.