Sydney: Traffic emissions may be bad for your lungs and overall health, but now a study says they could be instrumental in the birth of slightly smaller babies.
"This is the first time we have seen a specific link between normal suburban traffic pollution and its effect on the foetal growth," said Gavin Pereira, assistant professor at the University of Western Australia, who led the study.
His team monitored traffic emission levels and compared it with the birth records of over 1,000 mothers between 2000 and 2006, the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health reports.
The results show that a newborn who would have ideally attained a birth weight of 3.5 kg could be 58 grams lighter. The results reflect about half of the effect observed for maternal smoking during pregnancy among this group, according to a Western Australia statement.
Pereira, whose researches traffic, air pollution and childhood health, said the results were surprising because these effects were observed when air quality guidelines met national standards.
"International studies have found some associations but this is the first time we have seen a specific link between normal suburban traffic pollution and its effect on the foetal growth."
He said while the results should not cause alarm, the warning signs should not be ignored.