In a pilot study in New York, air pollution due to combustion has been proved to cause damage to the DNA of the fetus in the womb. The research was done by Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health, part of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, US.
The researchers had observed the effect of prenatal exposure to air pollution due to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) that can penetrate placenta to affect the fetus. Some common such air pollutants are vehicle exhaust fumes, fumes from cigarettes, and smoke from burnings carried out for commercial purposes. Examining 265 pairs of newborns and their mothers in New York City, the study was aimed to find out if environmental toxicity affects the susceptibility to cancer in human beings, especially babies.
The results show that the PAH which enters the placenta of the fetus are carcinogenic in nature and causes a change in the DNA structure of the fetus, thus raising the risk of cancer in such babies.
The study raises concern over the fact that even our unborn children are no longer protected from the environmental pollutions, and it is time that we do take immediate step to reduce pollution in the cities.