(CBS) – In most American cities,from cars and factories is a fact of life. But a new study raises a red flag for pregnant women by suggesting that higher levels of air pollution can pose a serious health threat even inside the womb.
“What we found was that air pollution exposure during the third trimester in particular was associated with higher blood pressure in children,” study author Dr. Noel Mueller, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told CBS News.READ MORE: 8 People Dead, Multiple Injured After Shooting At FedEx Facility In Indianapolis
In fact, babies exposed to higher air pollution in the final trimester were 61 percent more likely to have elevated blood pressure as they grow up, the study found.
For the study, researchers looked at nearly 1,300 mothers and their babies from the Boston area. They measured theat each doctor’s appointment from the ages of 3 to 9.
And the problem doesn’t end with childhood, Mueller said.READ MORE: Basement Fire In Back Of The Yards Leaves 2 People In Critical Condition
“We know that blood pressure tracks through life. Children who have elevated blood pressure in childhood have a higher probability of having hypertension later in life and cardiovascular diseases,” Mueller said.
The study, published in the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension, does not suggest that women pick up and move to less polluted areas, but rather take sensible precautions.
“If they are exercising during the third trimester ofthey may want to consider not exercising outside in highly polluted areas,” Mueller said.
He also called for the government to take further steps to combat pollution. “We need regulations to keep our air clean, not only for the health of our planet but also for the health of our children,” Mueller said.MORE NEWS: Retired CPD Sergeant Says He Can't Pass Judgment For Sure On Adam Toledo Shooting Video -- Did Adam Have A Gun?
The authors note that the study has only shown an association between air pollution andin children and does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship. However, they say their study warrants further research to substantiate their findings.