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Good Housekeeping
Jennifer Chan, Assistant Managing Editor
April 08, 2012

Prenatal Exposure to Pollution May Lead to Behavioral Problems in Kids

Attention, expectant mothers! Research shows one reason to avoid going into a polluted environment is that it may cause depression and anxiety in your kids later in life. By Jennifer Chan

Pollution never did anyone any good. It’s harmful to whoever is exposed to it--including your unborn child. According to a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, mothers who are exposed to pollution may have to deal with serious side effects in the future. Apparently, your kid could start exhibiting social disorders such as anxiety, depression, and attention problems by the time he or she is six to seven years old. 

The study involved 253 non-smoking inner city women who gave birth between 1999 and 2006. Those with the highest levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)—the byproduct of  the burning of fossil fuels and tobacco among others—were 4.5 times more likely to have children with social disorders. By measuring the levels of PAH in the blood, researchers were also able to find out that women with higher PAH residues at the time of their delivery were 23 percent more likely to have children worse anxiety problems and depression compared to those who had lower PAH residues. 

Unfortunately, pollution is not exactly easy to evade, especially if you’re living in the city. You can, however, take measures to keep your exposure as low as possible. For one, you might want to stay away from any form of secondhand smoke. Next, keep your home well-ventilated. While you can’t fix external environments, you at least have a bit of control when at home. 


(Photo by Sharon Drummon via Flickr Creative Commons)

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Jennifer Chan
Assistant Managing Editor
Jennifer Chan was a contributing writer for Female Network for two years before formally joining the team as a staff writer in July 2012... Read more...
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