We all know that fresh air is good for babies, but a recent study conducted by Columbia University’s Center for Children’s Environmental Health shows that the air a mother breathes during pregnancy is also important to baby’s health. The study, which was conducted primarily in New York City, considered the relationship between air pollution in expectant mothers’ and behavioral and health issues in their children at age six to seven.
The study considered over 250 nonsmoking women who had given birth from 1999-2006. In particular, the study looked at the levels of air pollution in the mothers’ environments during the last two trimesters of pregnancy.
The study found that the behavioral health of children seemed to be linked to the amount of pollution in a mother’s environment during pregnancy. It found that the likelihood of children having the following conditions between the ages of six and seven increased proportionately to the amount of pollutant in the mother’s environment while the child was being formed:
- Attention problems
The study was conducted by having the parents answer a questionnaire regarding their children’s behavioral health. Further study is needed before a conclusive link between behavioral health problems and a mother’s environment can be established. Still, the results were telling enough that it seems likely that pollution in your environment during pregnancy can affect your child.
It would be nice if we could all move to the country when we find out we’re having a baby. The unfortunate reality is that many of us live in places where smog and pollution are unavoidable. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to minimize the effects of air pollution both on you and on your baby. These include healthy habits, such as:
- Taking steps to reduce pollution in your environment when possible (i.e., using air purifiers in the home and office)
- Engage regularly in moderate exercise
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet
- Add antioxidants to your diet and/or supplements
- Get prenatal care
- Get out of the city and get some fresh air as often as possible
- Ventilate your home with fans, especially when cooking
- Avoid pesticides and other toxic chemicals
What can you do to improve the air quality in your home and work environments?