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Prenatal exposure to combustion-related pollutants and anxiety, attention problems in young children
Date:3/21/2012

NEW YORK ( March 22, 2012) - Mothers' exposure during pregnancy to a class of air pollutants called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) can lead to behavioral problems in their children. PAH are released to air during incomplete combustion of fossil fuel such as diesel, gasoline, coal, and other organic material.

The study is the first report of associations between child attentional and behavioral problems among school‐age children and two complementary measures of prenatal PAH exposure: monitored air concentrations of PAH and a PAH-specific biomarker of exposure measured in maternal and umbilical cord blood. The paper, "Prenatal Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) Exposure and Child Behavior at age 6-7," published online today in Environmental Health Perspectives, adds to rising concerns about the risks associated with exposures to air pollution during pregnancy.

The study followed the children of 253 non‐smoking inner-city women who gave birth between 1999 and 2006. Researchers led by Frederica Perera, DrPH, director of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health, measured two complementary indicators of PAH exposure. One indicator was the PAH concentration in air from personal air sampling which took place during the third trimester of pregnancy. The other was a specific biological marker of exposure-- PAHDNA adducts measured in maternal blood and newborn umbilical cord blood. When inhaled by the mother during pregnancy, PAH can be transferred across the placenta and bind to the DNA of the fetus, forming "adducts" in blood and other tissues and providing a biologic measure of pollutant exposure.

Mothers completed a detailed assessment of their child's behavior (including whether the children experienced symptoms of anxiety, depression, or attention problems. High prenatal PAH exposure, whether characterized by personal air monitoring or maternal and newbo
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Contact: Stephanie Berger
sb2247@columbia.edu
212-305-4372
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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