Friday, July 24, 2009
"Kids' lower IQ scores linked to prenatal pollution
AP – July 17, 2009, by the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental …
By LINDSEY TANNER, AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner, Ap Medical Writer – 2 hrs 7 mins ago
CHICAGO – Researchers for the first time have linked air pollution exposure before birth with lower IQ scores in childhood, bolstering evidence that smog may harm the developing brain.
The results are in a study of 249 children of New York City women who wore backpack air monitors for 48 hours during the last few months of pregnancy. They lived in mostly low-income neighborhoods in northern Manhattan and the South Bronx. They had varying levels of exposure to typical kinds of urban air pollution, mostly from car, bus and truck exhaust.
At age 5, before starting school, the children were given IQ tests. Those exposed to the most pollution before birth scored on average four to five points lower than children with less exposure.
That's a big enough difference that it could affect children's performance in school, said Frederica Perera, the study's lead author and director of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health.
Dr. Michael Msall, a University of Chicago pediatrician not involved in the research, said the study doesn't mean that children living in congested cities "aren't going to learn to read and write and spell."
But it does suggest that you don't have to live right next door to a belching factory to face pollution health risks, and that there may be more dangers from typical urban air pollution than previously thought, he said.
"We are learning more and more about low-dose exposure and how things we take for granted may not be a free ride," he said.
While future research is needed to confirm the new results, the findings suggest exposure to air pollution before birth could have the same harmful effects on the developing brain as exposure to lead, said Patrick Breysse, an environmental health specialist at Johns Hopkins' school of public health.
And along with other environmental harms and disadvantages low-income children are exposed to, it could help explain why they often do worse academically than children from wealthier families, Breysse said.
"It's a profound observation," he said. "This paper is going to open a lot of eyes."
The study in the August edition of Pediatrics was released Monday.
In earlier research, involving some of the same children and others, Perera linked prenatal exposure to air pollution with genetic abnormalities at birth that could increase risks for cancer; smaller newborn head size and reduced birth weight. Her research team also has linked it with developmental delays at age 3 and with children's asthma.
The researchers studied pollutants that can cross the placenta and are known scientifically as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Main sources include vehicle exhaust and factory emissions. Tobacco smoke is another source, but mothers in the study were nonsmokers.
A total of 140 study children, 56 percent, were in the high exposure group. That means their mothers likely lived close to heavily congested streets, bus depots and other typical sources of city air pollution; the researchers are still examining data to confirm that, Perera said. The mothers were black or Dominican-American; the results likely apply to other groups, researchers said.
The researchers took into account other factors that could influence IQ, including secondhand smoke exposure, the home learning environment and air pollution exposure after birth, and still found a strong influence from prenatal exposure, Perera said.
Dr. Robert Geller, an Emory University pediatrician and toxicologist, said the study can't completely rule out that pollution exposure during early childhood might have contributed. He also noted fewer mothers in the high exposure group had graduated from high school. While that might also have contributed to the high-dose children's lower IQ scores, the study still provides compelling evidence implicating prenatal pollution exposure that should prompt additional studies, Geller said.
The researchers said they plan to continuing monitoring and testing the children to learn whether school performance is affected and if there are any additional long-term effects. "
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Join Curly as she learns about faith, strength, impermanence, imagination and more.
Intended for children ages 4+
Buy at Amazon (click on book cover)
One day while Curly was on her way to the water spring and had just exchanged her usual greetings with Mister Donkey and the sheep, she met a little porcupine sitting all alone by the road. “What are you doing here little fella?” Curly asked him. He told her that he had gotten lost while sniffing the grass and had found himself in an unfamiliar place away from home. “Little prickly fella” Curly said, “would you let me help you? “Yes” he replied as a small tear rolled down his face.
Curly then took a large plant leaf and placed the little porcupine on it and gently carried him to her home. She called “Grandpa, grandpa, this little porcupine surely has a home and a family. He is lost. Let’s take him to his home”. “Yes!” grandpa said. “Everyone has a place where they come from”. He told her.
The next day, Curly and grandpa brought the porcupine into the woods where he last remembered being before finding himself at the road near the pasture. As he smelled the air, the little porcupine said that the air there smelled more like home and thanked them for carrying him there. After all, it would have taken him many days to walk there even if he knew the way. His little feet would have gotten very, very tired if they had not carried him along the way. He told them that his feet were too short and small and that he would have never been able to walk thus far so quickly had they not carried him. They waved good bye and each went their own way.
Grandpa explained to Curly that certain animals are not meant to be our pets and that they are happiest in their own homes, in the wild. He told her that not hurting these creatures was important because they, like people, deserve to be happy and free. Curly remembered this lesson and how important it is not to hurt anyone or anything in nature.
Posted by Rossi Davis at 5:35 PM