The Air Up There
Air pollution may be to blame for lower birth weights and smaller skulls in African-American babies born in Upper Manhattan and the South Bronx, according to a study on childhood asthma to be published next month in Environmental Health Perspectives. The study, which was conducted by researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, found that African-American women exposed to car exhaust, cigarettes, and incinerators during their third trimester of pregnancy gave birth to smaller babies with smaller skulls, factors that have been linked to poor health and mental problems later in life. The study also analyzed Dominican women and their newborns but found no significant problems. Begun in 1998, the study will follow the children through their fifth birthdays or beyond, tracking overall health, respiratory health, cognitive function, and school performance to determine what role pollutants play in the physical and mental well-being of urban children.