• Perla Tiburcio

Study: Air pollution affects DNA of unborn babies


A recent study concluded that short telomeres - the portion at the end of each DNA strand that affects how cells age - could be due to exposure to air pollution. Researchers ended up with outcomes that could prove that short telomeres in babies are due to certain particles in the air.

The researchers chose 641 women who had already given birth to one child at full term in order to analyze the similarities in environmental surroundings and aging. According to CNN, researchers used monitoring devices to measure pollution levels in the air and used the babies’ cord blood and placental tissues' DNA to determine their telomere length.

The researchers found that the air that surrounded the mother’s environment contained several particles with unstable molecules mixed with oxygen. The molecules combined with several cells that caused free radicals to be built up, affecting DNA, RNA, proteins, and killing many cells. The study finally concluded that mothers who lived in certain areas where air pollution is a problem gave birth to babies with short telomeres.

There have been other researchers who don’t fully agree with the research’s conclusions. Some suggested that the shortened telomeres could be caused by stress from people who live around a polluted area. Other researchers stated that the reason for the short telomeres may be more related to the genetics of individuals' parents.

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