Polluted Air Harms Children’s Brain

Smog lowers kids' IQs, even before they're born. The five-year-old children of city mothers who regularly breathed in car- and truck-polluted air when they were pregnant scored significantly lower on IQ tests than kids with less exposure, a study released Monday found.

The 249 moms tested -- all from the South Bronx and upper Manhattan -- wore backpack air monitors for 48 hours during the last few months of pregnancy , New York Daily News reports.

That's a big enough difference that it could affect children's performance in school, said Frederica Perera, the study's lead author and director of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health.

Dr. Michael Msall, a University of Chicago pediatrician not involved in the research, said the study doesn't mean that children living in congested cities "aren't going to learn to read and write and spell."

But it does suggest that you don't have to live right next door to a belching factory to face pollution health risks, and that there may be more dangers from typical urban air pollution than previously thought, he said, The Associated Press reports.

Pre-natal exposure to environmental pollutants -- polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons -- may adversely affect a child's IQ, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health in New York say polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are chemicals released into the air from the burning of coal, diesel, oil and gas, or other organic substances such as tobacco, United Press International reports.