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Breathing Smog While Pregnant May Worsen Asthma in Offspring

SUNDAY, May 20 (HealthDay News) -- Exposure to air pollution while in the womb might harm the lung-function development of children with asthma, a new study finds.

Researchers conducted repeated evaluations of 162 asthmatic children between the ages of 6 and 15 in Fresno, Calif., and used U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data to determine the children's mothers' exposure to air pollution during pregnancy.

The study showed that exposure to airborne particles and the pollutant nitrogen dioxide during the first and second trimesters was associated with poorer lung function growth in both boys and girls with asthma.

The study was scheduled for presentation Sunday at an American Thoracic Society conference, in San Francisco.

The findings add to existing evidence that a mother's exposure to air pollution during pregnancy can have long-term effects on lung-function development in children with asthma, said lead author Amy Padula, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, in a conference news release.

The results also offer further proof that current levels of air pollution harm human health and that more needs to be done to reduce traffic-related air pollution, she added.

Padula and her colleagues hope to conduct studies examining how genetics might affect a person's susceptibility to air pollution. This type of information could prove helpful in public health efforts.

Data and conclusions presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about air pollution and respiratory health.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, May 20, 2012

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