Chemical pollutants affect babies exposed as soon as the pregnancy

Photo: Thomas Samson Agence France-Presse
A study in franco-Spanish group is the first to examine the overall exposure of babies before and after birth, to a range of pollutants.

Children exposed to a cocktail of chemical pollutants during their mother’s pregnancy and the first months of their life were more likely to have a respiratory function reduced, shows a study in franco-Spanish.

Certain substances ” may be associated with respiratory function decreased among children “, explained in a joint press release from INSERM, the CNRS and the Université Grenoble Alpes.

The researchers cite in particular the perfluorinated compounds (PFCS, which are found in particular in the frying pan, some food packaging materials and coatings stain-resistant), the éthylparabène (a preservative used in many cosmetics) and several molecules from the degradation of phthalates.

It is one of the first studies on the subject to take into account the overall exposure to a range of pollutants (the” exposome “), and not only substance by substance, identified by the authors of the article, published in the british medical journal The Lancet Planetary Health.

The team of researchers collected data on lifestyle and exposures to several tens of substances (fine particles in the air, endocrine disruptors, metals, persistent organic pollutants, etc) of approximately 1000 pregnant women and their children in six european countries.

Respiratory function decreased

In the framework of the study, which was attended also the global health Institute of Barcelona, the scientists then measured the lung function of children between the ages of 6 and 12 years, thanks to a test for measuring the volume of air inspired and expired.

They have thus observed, for example, a rate two times higher of perfluoro-octanoic (PFOA in English, a compound is a perfluorinated highly persistent in the environment) in the blood of the mother during pregnancy was associated a few years later, with a decrease of almost 2% of the volume of air expired per second in their children.

The lung development of the child is a determining factor in its overall health

— Valérie Siroux

Of exposures after birth, the nine factors are associated with a respiratory function less well, including copper, éthylparabène, five molecules resulting from the degradation of phthalates, but also the overcrowding of the accommodation.

In this statistical analysis, which does not show a cause and effect relationship, ” should be seen as a first selection step for determining exposures suspicious as to why work are needed “, say its authors.

“To determine risk factors of respiratory function decreased in childhood is important, because the lung development of the child is a determining factor in its overall health, not just respiratory, throughout the life “, emphasises Valérie Siroux, a researcher at the INSERM and cocoordinatrice of the study.


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