Study reveals that using air cleaners during pregnancy can mitigate the negative effects of air pollution on brain development in children
A new study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives suggests that having a portable air cleaner in the home during pregnancy can reduce the negative impacts of air pollution on the development of children’s brains. The research indicates that children born to mothers who used air cleaners had an average full-scale intelligence quotient (FSIQ) that was 2.8 points higher than those whose mothers did not use air cleaners.
“These findings strongly implicate air pollution as a threat to brain development, adding to the existing evidence from previous studies,” said Ryan Allen, a researcher from Simon Fraser University in Canada. The study involved 540 pregnant women in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, a city known for its severe air pollution that exceeds World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.
The pregnant women, who were non-smokers and had not previously used air filtering devices, were randomly assigned to either the control or intervention group. The intervention group received one or two high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter air cleaners and were encouraged to run them continuously throughout their pregnancies. The air cleaners were removed from the homes after the children were born.
When the children reached the age of four, the researchers measured their full-scale intelligence quotient (FSIQ). The children in the intervention group, whose mothers had used air cleaners during pregnancy, had significantly higher FSIQ scores compared to the control group. Moreover, the intervention group also showed greater average verbal comprehension index scores, suggesting that a child’s verbal skills may be particularly sensitive to air pollution exposure.
The study highlights the potential benefits of using portable air cleaners to mitigate the harmful effects of air pollution on brain development in children. By reducing exposure to pollutants, especially in areas with poor air quality, pregnant women can create a healthier environment for their unborn children. These findings emphasize the importance of addressing air pollution as a public health concern and implementing measures to improve air quality worldwide.