A study conducted by a team of Rutgers researchers suggests that inhaling polluted air by pregnant women can negatively impact fetal cardiovascular development.
According to a study published in the journal of Cardiovascular Toxicology, mother's and fetus' cardiovascular systems during the early first trimester and late third trimester of pregnancy are most susceptible to pollutants. According to Phoebe Stapleton, an assistant professor at Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy and a faculty member at Rutgers Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, "Women of child-bearing years who may be pregnant and those undergoing fertility treatments should avoid areas known for high air pollution or stay inside on high-smog days to reduce their exposure."
A mother’s circulatory system is constantly providing adequate blood flow to facilitate growth of the fetus. Inhaling poisonous pollutants can restrict blood flow to the uterus, thereby depriving the fetus of the necessary nutrients, and most importantly, of sufficient oxygen. This in turn can lead to stunted growth and cause complications in the pregnancy such as intrauterine growth restriction.
Researchers conducted an in-vivo experiment using pregnant rats and found that exposure to pollutants early in gestation particularly impacted a fetus's main artery and the umbilical vein. Further exposure impacted the fetal size as the constricted blood flow deprived the fetus of nutrients in its final stage. Furthermore, the study found that later in the pregnancy, even a single exposure to these nanoparticles were capable of restricting both maternal and fetal blood flow, which in turn can go on to affect the child into adulthood.
It is projected that by 2025, the annual global production of nanosize titanium dioxide particles could reach 2.5 million metric tons. Besides the micro particles found in air pollution, titanium dioxide also is also used in many personal care and beauty products such as sunscreen lotions and face powders. While nanotechnology has led to achievements in areas such as vehicle fuel efficiency and renewable energy, more research needs to be made over how these particles affect us at all stages of development.
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