Air pollutant effects on fetal and early postnatal development

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Numerical research on the health effects of air pollution has been published in the last decade. Epidemiological studies have shown that children's exposure to air pollutants during fetal development and early postnatal life is associated with many types of health problems including abnormal development (low birth weight [LBW], very low birth weight [VLBW], preterm birth [PTB], intrauterine growth restriction [IUGR], congenital defects, and intrauterine and infant mortality), decreased lung growth, increased rates of respiratory tract infections, childhood asthma, behavioral problems, and neurocognitive decrements. This review focuses on the health effects of major outdoor air pollutants including particulates, carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur and nitrogen oxides (SO2, NOx), ozone, and one common indoor air pollutant, environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Animal data is presented that demonstrate perinatal windows of susceptibility to sidestream smoke, a surrogate for ETS, resulting in altered airway sensitivity and cell type frequency. A study of neonatal monkeys exposed to sidestream smoke during the perinatal period and/or early postnatal period that resulted in an altered balance of Th1-/Th2-cytokine secretion, skewing the immune response toward the allergy-associated Th2 cytokine phenotype, is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-154
Number of pages11
JournalBirth Defects Research Part C - Embryo Today: Reviews
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • Air pollutants
  • Birth defect
  • Development
  • Environmental tobacco smoke
  • Immune system
  • Pulmonary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Embryology


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