Expectant mothers beware: Not only does exposure to high levels of environmental pollutants harm the planet and your lungs, but it may also lead to a four-point drop in your child’s IQ scores by age 5, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics and reported on by Yahoo! News.
Researchers from the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health in New York City observed healthy, nonsmoking black and Dominican-American mothers between the ages of 18 to 35 and in their third trimester of pregnancy. The women, who resided in northern Manhattan and the South Bronx, wore special backpacks containing air-sampling equipment for 48 hours to calculate their prenatal exposure to common pollutants in urban areas.

The study found that higher prenatal exposure to these pollutants resulted in women having children with lower weight and smaller head size at birth and development delays at age 3.

“A difference in four points could be educationally meaningful in terms of school success,” said Frederica Perera, the center’s director and lead author of the study.

Researchers continued to study the 249 children of these women through age 11 to check for links to learning disorders and attention deficit disorders (ADD).

 “Efforts to reduce diesel truck idling and require cleaner fuels have been effective in reducing pollution,” Perera said. “This study shows more needs to be done. We want healthy children, children who can reach their potential.”

Read RH’s “Join the Green Team” for tips on how to clear your space of pollutants.