Everyday pollutants in and outside the home can be bad for the environment…and bad for your baby’s brain
Researchers at the Institute for the Developing Mind at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) and colleagues at Columbia University’s Center for Children’s Environmental Health have found a powerful relationship between prenatal exposure to a type of pollutant and disturbances in parts of the brain that support information processing and behavioral control.
How do we get exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons?
Neurotoxic PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) are common in the environment, in the home and in the workplace. Emissions from motor vehicles, oil and coal burning for home heating or power generation, wildfires and agricultural burning, hazardous waste sites, tobacco smoke, and charred foods are all sources of exposure. PAH readily crosses the placenta and affects an unborn child’s brain; earlier animal studies showed that prenatal exposure impaired the development of behavior, learning and memory.
And it’s not just exposures to the fetus. The study showed reductions in nearly the entire white matter surface of the brain’s left hemisphere – loss associated with slower processing of information during intelligence testing and more severe behavioral problems, including ADHD and aggression. Postnatal PAH exposure – measured at age 5 – was found to contribute to additional disturbances in development of white matter in a region of the brain associated with concentration, reasoning, judgment, and problem-solving ability.
Source: Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Saban Research Institute Read the full report here