Placenta tissue with black carbon, shown in white and indicated with arrow. Image Credit: Saenen et al, Clinical Epigenetics, 2019
New research shows black carbon particles from the surroundings of the mother reaches the placenta and can possibly reach the fetus. This increases the chance on future health issues of the baby.
Researchers found when pregnant woman breathe in black carbon pollution from their surroundings – ultrafine particles originating from the combustion of fossil fuels, such as diesel-powered cards or the burning of coal – harmful particles make their way from the lungs of the mom to the placenta and possibly could reach the fetus.
Ultra-fine particles are smaller than one ten thousand millimeters (100 nanometer). Other forms of particle matter can be hundred times as big. However, it is the smallest particles, the ultra-fine particles, that causes the most health risks.
Previous research links air pollution in the surroundings of the mom to miscarriages, premature birth and low birth weight. Previously, the placenta was though to be an impenetrable barrier, because it keeps the bloodstreams of mother and child separated. This image must now be adjusted.
The researches of the Hasselt University published their research in the Nature Communications Journal. They researched 25 non-smoking women who gave birth in the Belgium city of Hasselt. The researches collected the placenta directly after birth, showing a cumulation of black carbon.
The more black carbon the women were exposed to during pregnancy, the more black carbon was found in the placenta
More research is needed to prove without a doubt black carbon reaches the fetus after entering the placenta. However, according to the researches, results of this research already show compelling evidence for this theory.