UNBORN babies could be at risk from fossil fuel pollution, say researchers who found soot in placentas.
Women who had been exposed to high levels of black carbon particles during pregnancy had more of it inside the vital foetus-nourishing organ than other new mums. More research is needed to find out if the particles are able to reach the unborn babies.
But Andrew Shennan, Professor of Obstetrics at King’s College, London, said the findings published in Nature Communications were ‘a concern’. ‘The placenta is the interface between mother and baby and is key to nourishing and supporting all the needs of the baby,’ he said.
‘Both the function and structure of the placenta is important, not only to the baby’s growth and wellbeing, but also to that of the mother.’ The placentas of 28 women — five pre-term and 23 full-term — were studied by researchers at Hasselt University in Belgium.
Women who had been regularly breathing in more than 2.42 micrograms per cubic metre of black carbon had higher levels in their placentas than mums exposed to low levels.