Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Air pollution and psychological distress during pregnancy

Date:
October 7, 2013
Source:
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Summary:
Maternal psychological distress combined with exposure to air pollution during pregnancy have an adverse impact on children's behavioral development. The study shows that maternal demoralization, a measure of psychological distress that can affect a mother's ability to cope with stressful situations, was linked with several behavioral problems, including anxiety, depression, and attention problems. Effects of demoralization were greatest among children with higher levels of prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in air pollution.

Maternal psychological distress combined with exposure to air pollution during pregnancy have an adverse impact on the child's behavioral development, according to researchers at the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health.

Related Articles


The study, which appears in the journal Pediatrics, reports that maternal demoralization, a measure of psychological distress capable of affecting a mother's ability to cope with stressful situations, was linked with a number of behavioral problems, including anxiety, depression, attention problems, rule-breaking, externalizing problems, and aggressive behavior. The effects of demoralization were greatest among children with higher levels of prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in air pollution.

"This study shows that the combination of physical and psychosocial stressors during fetal development magnifies the effect of each exposure," says lead author Frederica Perera, DrPH, PhD, director of the Center. "The findings are of concern because attention problems and anxiety and depression have been shown to affect peer relationships, academic performance, and future well- being of children."

The paper is the first to assess the interaction between PAH, combustion-related pollutants measured in air the mother breathed during pregnancy, and maternal demoralization on a variety of behavioral problems in childhood.

PAH are air pollutants generated by combustion sources such as motor vehicles, coal-fired power plants, residential heating and tobacco smoke. In Krakow, Poland, where the study took place, as in many areas worldwide, coal burning is an important air pollution source. Although Krakow has relatively high ambient concentrations of PAH from coal-burning and vehicle emissions, levels are within the range seen in many other urban areas worldwide. "Air pollution exposure is ubiquitous and often co-occurs with socioeconomic disadvantage and maternal psychological distress," notes Dr. Perera.

Researchers, led by Dr. Perera and Wieslaw Jedrychowski, MD, PhD, from the University of Krakow, followed 248 mother-child pairs from pregnancy through 9 years of age. Personal air sampling was completed during pregnancy to estimate prenatal PAH exposure. Behavioral problems were assessed using the Child Behavioral Checklist, a set of questions to which mothers responded about their child's behavior. Maternal demoralization has been correlated with socioeconomic factors such as material hardship. Levels of maternal demoralization were ascertained by a questionnaire during the second trimester.

Relationships between prenatal air pollution and behavioral or cognitive problems in childhood have previously been observed in the Center's Mothers & Newborns study in New York City and in the Polish cohort. This new study builds upon prior findings to examine the joint impact of maternal psychological distress and air pollution on behavioral problems.

Understanding the interactions between the social and physical environment will help to explain health disparities and create interventions to prevent health and developmental problems in children. Notes Dr. Perera, "The findings support policy interventions to reduce air pollution exposure in urban areas as well as programs to screen women early in pregnancy to identify those in need of psychological or material support."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Frederica P. Perera, Shuang Wang, Virginia Rauh, Hui Zhou, Laura Stigter, David Camann, Wieslaw Jedrychowski, Elzbieta Mroz, and Renata Majewska. Prenatal Exposure to Air Pollution, Maternal Psychological Distress, and Child Behavior. Pediatrics, October 2013

Cite This Page:

Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. "Air pollution and psychological distress during pregnancy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131007094500.htm>.
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. (2013, October 7). Air pollution and psychological distress during pregnancy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131007094500.htm
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. "Air pollution and psychological distress during pregnancy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131007094500.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) Lava from an active volcano on Hawaii's Big Island slowed slightly but stayed on track to hit a shopping center in the small town of Pahoa. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, thanks in part to something called feedback. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins