Exposure to traffic pollution could affect fetal development during pregnancy and lead to an increased chance of having a small baby.
The study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
Professor David Rich and colleagues from the School of Public Health in Piscataway, New Jersey, US carried out this research.
The study looked at 336,000 babies born in New Jersey between 1999 and 2003 and found that the higher a mother’s level of exposure in early and late pregnancy, the more likely it was that the baby would not grow properly, even after taking into account a range of known risk factors for small babies. These factors included mother’s age, poor education, poverty, smoking and being a single parent, which all also increased the risk of a small baby in this study.
The researchers conclude that their findings suggest that ambient air pollution may affect fetal growth. They also suggest that pregnancy complications may increase susceptibility to these effects in late pregnancy.
The study was funded by grants from the Foundation of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and the Center for Environmental Exposures and Disease.
Source: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, UK