Air Pollution and Childhood Cancer

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Story Updated: Apr 11, 2013

Decades of research has shown that air pollution may cause serious health effects including asthma, heart disease, and cancer. A team at the UCLA School of Public Health wanted to know whether a woman's exposure to polluted air during pregnancy may affect a child's health after birth.

Researchers identified more than 35 hundred children from a cancer registry who were born between 1998 and 2007. The children were 5 years old or younger when they were diagnosed. A control group of healthy kids was also identified. Estimates of local traffic exposure at the mother's home during each trimester, as well as the first year of the child's life, were generated.

According to the data, traffic-related air pollution during pregnancy was linked to higher incidence of acute lymphoblastic leukemia and retinoblastoma, which affects the eye and germ cell tumors. The higher the exposure the higher the risk for developing these diseases.

The researchers say more study is needed to determine if specific pollutants are to blame.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with the latest breakthroughs from the world of medicine.

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