Study Says Pollution Can Harm Children's Brains

A new study now says air pollution from cars and factories can harm a child's developing brain. Hereís the Allegheny Front's Deborah Weisberg.

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OPEN: A new study now says air pollution from cars and factories can harm a child's developing brain. Hereís the Allegheny Frontís Deborah Weisberg.

WEISBERG: Researchers in New York say women who live in polluted urban areas are more likely to give birth to children with lower IQs. The Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health outfitted pregnant women in poor parts of Manhattan and the Bronx with air monitoring backpacks. Five years later they gave IQ tests to their kids. Those born to mothers exposed in late-term pregnancy to the most pollution scored about four to five points lower than other kids. Center director Frederica Perera says itís a big enough difference to impact a child's learning in school.

PERERA: Support from stimulating home environment and in school setting can be helpful. So that for that reason it's very difficult to predict outcome for any particular child. And this four point difference was an average, so for some children it would have been less and for some it would have been more.

WEISBERG: The pollutants in Perera's study are known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which come mostly from vehicle exhaust and factory emissions. Perera indicated that even low levels of prenatal exposure to these chemicals could impact the developing brain and prove to be as harmful as lead. For the Allegheny Front, I'm Deborah Weisberg.