Pollution During Pregnancy Makes Kids Dumber: Study
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 23, 2009 10:45 AM CDT
Ilkania Matos wears a backpack air monitor while participating the study tracking urban air pollution's affect on the developing brain.   (AP Photo)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – Smog might be just as bad for your brain as it is for your lungs, a study finds. Researchers monitored the air pollution 249 mothers were exposed to during pregnancy, then monitored their children. They found that high pollution levels corresponded to a four-point drop in the kids’ IQ scores by age 5, Time reports.

The relationship holds even when other factors—including exposure to lead, pesticides, secondhand smoke, and the mother’s level of education—are taken into account. “It’s surprising the effects are so persistent,” said one epidemiologist. The reason for the difference is less clear, though the study’s lead author hypothesizes that the pollutants could cause genetic damage, and notes that fetal brains are especially vulnerable to neurotoxic chemicals.