It’s pretty clear that pollution is bad for the environment, but it can also affect people, including babies still in the womb. According to a new study, exposure to pollution during pregnancy can compromise your kids’ health in the future.

A recent study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore found that women who were exposed to polluted air during pregnancy had a higher risk of having kids that developed high blood pressure later on. The study looked at data from 1,293 mom and baby pairs and made the conclusion based on the kids’ blood pressure measured at checkups between ages 3 to 9.

The pairs were divided into three groups based on the mom’s level of exposure to fine particulate matter (particles found in traffic exhaust) during pregnancy. The kids in the group with the highest exposure level were 61 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure than the kids in the lowest level group. “We believe that when pregnant women breathe air with high levels of fine particulate matter, it causes an inflammatory response that alters genetic expression and fetal growth and development, on the pathway to high blood pressure in childhood,” study co-author Noel Mueller of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore told Reuters.

More research is still needed to determine how the pollution exposure is directly linked to blood pressure, but it’s still an important warning for pregnant women to avoid polluted areas if possible.

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—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured photo: Pixabay

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