Pregnant women who were exposed to ultra-fine air pollution are more likely to have children with asthma, a new study has found.
Researchers from The Mount Sinai Hospital discovered that ultra-fine particulate pollution, which is more common near major roadways with higher traffic density, can get much deeper into the lungs, and enter into the body's circulation.
The pollution's effect on children's lungs is thought to be due to the tiny particles being able to alter bodily regulatory systems like neuroendocrine and immune function.
And the team of experts warned that the toxic effects of this type of pollution is far greater.
More than 370 mothers and their children, with most participants Black or Latinx, from metropolitan areas of Boston, had their health monitored by the researchers and scientists, who had developed a way to provide valid daily estimations of ultra-fine particulate exposure.
Many of the participants were more likely to live near major roads with more traffic, therefore increasing their risk of being exposed to the tiny pollution particles.
They then followed up with the mothers to discover if their children were diagnosed with asthma, and found that 18 per cent developed the condition around three years old, compared to the seven per cent of children diagnosed across the U.S.
The study also found that girls were more sensitive to ultra-fine particle pollution's effects on asthma when exposed in late pregnancy.
Lead author Rosalind Wright wants more to be done to research the health implications of that type of pollution.
"This research is an important early step in building the evidence base that can lead to better monitoring of exposure to ultra-fine particles in the United States and ultimately to regulation," she explained.
"Childhood asthma remains a global epidemic that is likely to grow with the anticipated rise in particulate air pollution exposures due to effects of climate change," she added.