Polluted air is as dangerous for babies as cigarettes; it also has huge impact on pregnant women, recent study shows

Dirty air can lead to mothers giving birth to smaller babies.

This is claimed by a new study, according to which also breathing polluted air during pregnancy is as harmful as smoking, writes EurActiv. The research, carried out by the universities of Edinburgh and Aberdeen, found that babies in Scotland exposed to dangerously polluted air inhaled by their mothers had smaller heads and shorter bodies.

The research also found that mothers who smoked during pregnancy but were exposed to less polluted air gave birth to children with similar defects. The study took into account a representative sample from the north-east of Scotland, where air pollution is less pronounced than in cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The highest average concentration found during the survey was 7.2 micrograms per cubic meter, well below the average of 10 µg per cubic meters that are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Chief Scientist Dr. Tom Clemens explains that his team’s findings showed that the embryo of a non-smoking mother exposed to high levels of air pollution fared only slightly better than that of a smoking mother exposed to low levels of air pollution.

He calls on the WHO and the European Union to review their separate definitions of what levels of emissions are considered permissible.

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