Moms-to-be, Watch What you Breathe

Ivanhoe Broadcast News
Jan. 18, 2005

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A new study out of Great Britain suggests expectant mothers may want to be careful what they inhale while they’re pregnant. Researchers have linked breathing cancer-causing compounds during pregnancy to an increased risk of childhood cancer among offspring.

In fact, they believe nearly all childhood cancers can probably be traced back to a mother’s inhalation of noxious substances.

The finding comes from a study that compared a chemical emissions map in the United Kingdom with all children age 15 and younger who died from leukemia and other cancers between 1968 and 1980. Results show kids who were born within a one-kilometer radius of emissions hotspots were two- to four-times more likely to succumb to childhood cancer than those born outside of these hotspots.

The highest risks were found for those born near hotspots for the non-methane volatile organic compound 1,3-butadiene and carbon monoxide.

Other substances cited in the study were particulate matter, nitrogen oxides (which come from the burning of oils, particularly engine oils), other non-methane volatile organic compounds besides 1,3-butadiene (such as benzene and benz(a)pyrene), and dioxins.

Authors say the results from this study point to a need for new policy regulations aimed at controlling cancer-causing atmospheric emissions, particularly 1,3-butadiene, along with a redirection of childhood cancer research to determine the exact timing of chemically determined air mediated cancer initiations.

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SOURCE: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2005;59:101-105