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Prenatal Exposure to Air Pollution Reduces Child's IQ

man holding child while watching smoke rise from power plant

NIEHS-funded researchers at the Columbia University Center for Children's Environmental Health found that a mother's exposure to urban air pollutants while she is pregnant can result in a lower intelligence quotient, or IQ, in the child she is carrying. The study examined effects of exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, released into the air from burning coal, diesel, oil, and gas. Researchers studied women in the New York City area and found that children of these women, who were exposed to high levels of PAHs in utero, have an IQ that is, on average, four points lower. That difference could be important in terms of success in school for affected children.

Tags: IQ, air, children's health


Perrera FP, Zhigang L, Whyatt R, Hoepner L, Wang S, Camann D, Rauh V. 2009. Prenatal Airborne Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Exposure and Child IQ at Age 5 Years. Pediatrics 124(2):195-202. [Abstract]   [Full Text]

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  • 2009: A Child's IQ Can Be Affected by Mother’s Exposure to Urban Air Pollutants

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