Washington: Exposure to an environmental pollutant during pregnancy may increase the likelihood of mothers giving birth to babies, who are susceptible to obesity, say researchers.A study by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health found that pregnant women in New York City exposed to higher concentrations of chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAH, were more than twice as likely to have children who were obese by age 7 compared with women with lower levels of exposure.PAH, a common urban pollutant, are released into the air from the burning of coal, diesel, oil and gas, or other organic substances such as tobacco.“Obesity is a complex disease with multiple risk factors. It isn’t just the result of individual choices like diet and exercise,” said the study’s lead author Andrew G. Rundle, Dr. P.H., a professor of epidemiology at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health.“For many people who don’t have the resources to buy healthy food or don’t have the time to exercise, prenatal exposure to air pollution may tip the scales, making them even more susceptible to obesity,” they added.For the study, the researchers recruited 702 non-smoking pregnant women through prenatal clinics at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Harlem Hospital.
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