(ORDO NEWS) — Although the fetus in the womb appears to be protected from most external influences, in fact, everything that affects the mother directly affects the child.
Now scientists have found that microparticles of soot, a common air pollutant, can be detected in the body of an embryo as early as the first trimester of pregnancy, long before the baby begins to breathe.
Soot microparticles are all around us: they are emitted by the internal combustion engines of cars, coal-fired thermal power plants, aircraft turbines and trees burning in forest fires.
Although soot itself is not toxic, its microparticles serve as excellent carriers of heavy metals and other toxic substances released during the combustion of carbon fuels.
Previously, scientists have already shown that soot microparticles, along with the mother’s blood, can reach the placenta, but it was not clear whether they penetrate further into the developing embryo itself. Now scientists know the answer: yes, they do. And very quickly.
A team of scientists from the University of Hasselt (Belgium) found that the amount of soot microparticles inhaled by the mother is proportional to their amount in the placenta and the child’s body (data were collected after studying samples obtained during normal births and after an interrupted pregnancy).
The study included only samples from women who did not smoke either during or before pregnancy.
Scientists have found a strong relationship between the concentration of soot microparticles in the mother’s blood, cord blood and placenta and the content of pollutants in the air of the living quarters where the pregnant woman lived.
In the bodies of babies, soot microparticles were found already during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy in the liver, lungs and brain.
These results are especially alarming, since the harmful substances carried by the soot microparticles undoubtedly affect the development of the baby’s organs and complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
In the future, scientists plan to clarify the mechanisms of transmission of soot microparticles from mother to embryo and emphasize the importance of reducing the use of carbon fuels, one of the main sources of soot in the air.
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