A new research suggests ,sooty particles from polluted air reach placenta and that may be reason of air pollution having detrimental effect on Foetus.
For the first time evidence showing tiny particles of carbon, typically created by burning fossil fuels, has been found in placenta, reports a new research at the European Respiratory Society International Congress.
Links between pregnant mothers’ exposure to air pollution and premature birth, low birth weight, infant mortality, and childhood respiratory problems were indicated by previous researches.
As per the new study, existing evidence on the dangers of pollution for unborn babies suggests that when pregnant women breathe polluted air, sooty particles are able to reach the placenta via the bloodstream.
Dr. Miyashita, the lead author of the study said: “We’ve known for a while that air pollution affects fetal development and can continue to affect babies after birth and throughout their lives.”
“We were interested to see if these effects could be due to pollution particles moving from the mother’s lungs to the placenta. Until now, there has been very little evidence that inhaled particles get into the blood from the lung,” he added.
The study included five pregnant women who were all non-smokers with an uncomplicated pregnancy and each one gave birth to a healthy baby. All women gave permission for researchers to study their placentas after delivery.
The researchers were interested in particular cells called placental macrophages. Macrophages exist in many different parts of the body. They are part of the body’s immune system and work by engulfing harmful particles, such as bacteria and pollution particles. In the placenta, they also help to protect the fetus. The team studied a total of 3,500 placental macrophage cells from the five placentas and examined them under a high-powered microscope.
The study found that 60 cells that between them contained 72 small black areas that researchers believe were carbon particles. On average, each placenta contained around five square micrometers of this black substance.
They went on to study the placental macrophages from two placentas in greater details using an electron microscope and again found material that they believe was made up of tiny carbon particles.
In previous research, the team has used the same techniques to identify and measure these sooty particles in macrophages in people’s airways. Dr. Liu added: “We thought that looking at macrophages in other organs might provide direct evidence that inhaled particles move out of the lungs to other parts of the body.
“We were not sure if we were going to find any particles and if we did find them, we were only expecting to find a small number of placental macrophages that contain these sooty particles. This is because most of them should be engulfed by macrophages within the airways, particularly the bigger particles, and only a minority of small-sized particles would move into the circulation.
“Our results provide the first evidence that inhaled pollution particles can move from the lungs into the circulation and then to the placenta.
“We do not know whether the particles we found could also move across into the fetus, but our evidence suggests that this is indeed possible. We also know that the particles do not need to get into the baby’s body to have an adverse effect because if they have an effect on the placenta, this will have a direct impact on the fetus.”
This new research suggests a possible mechanism for how babies are affected by pollution while being theoretically protected in the womb. This should raise awareness amongst clinicians and the public regarding the harmful effects of air pollution in pregnant women and stricter policies are required for cleaner air to reduce the impact of pollution on health worldwide because we are already seeing a new population of young adults with health issues.