Early research from a small study conducted by Queen Mary University London has found that air pollution can travel through the lungs of pregnant women and into their placentas.
The study examined five pregnant women in the United Kingdom and found sooty particles in their placentas, which have a direct impact on foetuses.
The findings build on previous studies demonstrating the link between air pollution and infant mortality, premature death and low birth weight. According to the World Health Organisation, children and babies are more vulnerable to air pollution as their central nervous, immune, reproductive, and digestive systems are still developing and as they breathe more air in proportion to their size than adults.
The fact that air pollution has a detrimental impact on health and consequently life chances even prior to birth, puts further pressure on governments to act. Will studies such as these see air pollution move up the policy agenda or are the health impacts already well estabalished so that the real barriers lie elsewhere?