A study has concluded that exposure to environmental pollution while pregnant can have a serious impact on unborn babies - for up to three generations.
Researchers used rodents to conduct the investigation, which saw pregnant mice exposed to diesel exhaust particles and urban air particle concentrate. Having compared the lungs of the first, second and third generations of baby mice with other offspring that were not exposed to the particles, the researchers were able to determine an abnormality in the mice born to the mothers exposed to the pollutants.
The team discovered that the pollution caused the babies’ DNA to alter by way of abnormal changes in the immune cells known as dendritic cells – cells that play a major part when it comes to asthma developing in children and infants.
The increase of the dendritic cells was clearer in the first and second generation mice, implying that the risk lessens as generations become more and more removed.
Image courtesy of Mickael Tournier