Pregnant moms, it’s best to steer clear of overly polluted locales, as a recent study shows that exposure to harmful air components may cause your children to have respiratory problems and develop an allergy to cockroaches, ScienceDaily.com reports.

Researchers from the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health worked with 349 mother-and-child pairs; cockroach allergen in the form of bed and kitchen dust that may contain protein in feces, saliva, and other insect remnants were collected during pregnancy. Also factored in was the mothers’ exposure to certain air components such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which can be inhaled from vehicle exhaust and is considered one of the common causes of asthma.

Upon reaching their fifth and seventh years, each mother’s offspring was then given blood tests to find out if they possessed the immune marker of allergy.

Researchers found that 279 or a whopping 80 percent of the homes tested had cockroach allergen, while 82 or 31 percent of the children developed cockroach allergy. Mothers who were exposed to large amounts of PAH during pregnancy had a higher risk of having children who had asthma and were allergic to cockroaches.

"Allergy to cockroach is one of the greatest risk factors for asthma in low-income urban communities... These findings suggest that exposures in the home environment as early as the prenatal period can lead to some children being at much greater risk for developing an allergy to cockroach, which, in turn, heightens their risk of developing asthma," lead author Matthew Perzanowski explains.

Although it’s impossible to avoid air pollution especially if you live in the city, you can do your best to find ways to lessen your exposure to it. Avoid over-populated streets, and if you need to pass them, always cover your nose. Keep your home clean by sweeping daily to avoid gathering dust. Small steps can go a long way in safeguarding your child’s health.

(Photo by ben dalton via Flickr Creative Commons)

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