ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Naprapathy: A Hands-On Approach to Pain Management
Regular Yoga May Improve Eating Habits
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Almost Half of Adults Will Develop Knee Osteoarthritis by 85
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
CANCER
U.S. Reported 25,000 Cases of HPV-Related Cancers Annually
Green Tea Compound Slowed Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Well Water Might Raise Bladder Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Late-Life Fatherhood May Lower Child's Intelligence
Caring for Aging Loved Ones Can Be a Catch-22
Simpler Sleep Apnea Treatment Seems Effective, Affordable
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Obesity Linked to Heart Failure Risk
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Holistic Dentistry-My View
DIABETES
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
DIET, NUTRITION
Eat Light - Live Longer
Imagine Food Aromas That Prevent Overeating
Asparagus May Ease Hangover
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Restaurant Sushi May Have More Mercury Than Store-Bought Fare
Pilots May Face Greater Cancer Risk
Main Ingredients in Household Dust Come From Outdoors
EYE CARE, VISION
Statin Drugs Cause Eye Disorders
Americans Losing Sight of Eye Health
Glaucoma Associated With Reading Impairments in Elderly
FITNESS
Avoiding a Holiday Season of Discontent
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
Go To Work But Skip The Car
Eating Nuts May Help Cholesterol Levels
Vinegar Might Help Keep Off Pounds
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fewer Heart Attacks After England Goes Smoke-Free
A Little Chocolate May Do the Heart Good
Omega-3, Some Omega-6 Fatty Acids Boost Cardiovascular Health
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Wood Fires Can Harm the Youngest Lungs
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
MENTAL HEALTH
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Have a Goal in Life? You Might Live Longer
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
SENIORS
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Green Tea May Help Treat Uterine Fibroids
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
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Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ

(HealthDay News) -- Fetal exposure to high levels of a common airborne pollutant compound seems to threaten the intellectual development of children, a new study suggests.

The finding is based on the experience of black and Dominican-American families living in the New York City area. Specifically, it indicates that high prenatal exposure to these compounds -- automobile exhaust is one example -- translates into lower IQ scores by the time a child reaches the age of 5 years.

This linkage builds on prior research, which has suggested that exposure to these pollutants, known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), while still in the womb can provoke developmental changes that damage lung health and boost the risk for developing childhood asthma.

"As a reference, most people know that lead exposure is harmful to children, and the effects we saw in terms of the association between PAH exposure and decreased IQ scores are comparable with low-level lead exposure, which is of concern because IQ level is a known predictor of a child's future academic performance," explained study author Frederica P. Perera, a professor in the department of environmental health sciences with the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York City.

"And here we're talking about extremely common urban pollutants, found all across the U.S. and the world," Perera added. "Traffic emissions from diesel and gasoline vehicles -- like buses, trucks and cars -- are a major source of these pollutants, as is fuel-burning coal. So, certainly the exposure is widespread and not confined to any one population or area, and we have no reason to think that the effects that we see in our study will be any different for other ethnicities or locations."

Perera -- who also serves as director of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health -- reports the findings online July 20 and in the August print issue of Pediatrics.

To assess the impact of PAH exposure in the womb, the authors conducted air monitoring between 1998 and 2003, during the pregnancy of 249 black and Dominican-American mothers in the Washington Heights and Harlem areas of New York City.

The researchers pointed out that none of the children were born to parents who smoked, removing that type of pollutant exposure from the equation.

All of the women were between the ages of 18 and 35, and none had diabetes, HIV, high blood pressure or a history of illegal drug use.

Perera and her colleagues found that 140 of the children (a little more than 56 percent) had been exposed to high levels of PAH in the womb.

After adjusting for a range of potentially influential factors -- such as maternal IQ levels and varying types of home caretaking environments -- the authors found that by age 5, those children exposed to high PAH exposure in the womb scored more than four points lower on full-scale IQ tests, and nearly five points lower on verbal IQ tests.

Although such evidence suggests that early intellectual development is indeed negatively affected by high levels of pollutant exposure, research is ongoing and the child participants will continue to be monitored through age 11, the researchers noted.

Meanwhile, Perera says that "aside from making sure that there are no other pollutant sources in the house such as tobacco smoke, families can proactively protect themselves by maintaining a clean home environment and good ventilation of cooking fumes, and by making sure that pregnant women and children consume healthy diets."

But, she noted, "as far as outdoor air exposure, that's a question for policymakers. I'm not a policy expert, but I would say fortunately that there are means at hand to address this problem. They include plans to reduce vehicle emissions, and to develop the technologies that would do so, along with policies that focus on energy efficiency and energy alternatives."

Michael Jerrett, an associate professor of environmental health sciences with the School of Public Health at University of California, Berkeley, expressed little surprise at the findings, and suggested that an association between in-utero PAH exposure and a lower IQ is "certainly plausible."

"Children exposed to prenatal or in-utero air pollution from traffic oftentimes have lower birth weights, somewhat smaller head circumferences, and a number of adverse outcomes," he noted. "There's certainly enough there to suggest an effect. And I think any one of those outcomes -- if they happen early enough in life -- can affect development through childhood and exert an impact on intelligence," Jerrett said.

"Of course you can't rule out other factors -- the school environment, the home environment, even the neighborhood environment -- that might affect IQ," Jerrett cautioned. "But certainly it is important for us to investigate this, and see what further study reveals."

SOURCES: Frederica P. Perera, Ph.D., professor, department of environmental health sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York City, and director, Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health; Michael Jerrett, Ph.D., associate professor, environmental health sciences, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, and director, Doctor of Public Health Program; August 2009, Pediatrics