Air Quality One-Two Punch Hurts Fetuses

The combined effects of air pollution and secondhand smoke can hurt fetal development, says a new study conducted in New York City by the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health. While previous studies have addressed the effects of both factors in isolation, this study marks the first attempt to study the cumulative effects of their interaction. Babies exposed to high levels of both experienced a 7 percent reduction in birth weight and a 3 percent reduction in head circumference. “The effects we see, reduced fetal growth and lower birth weight, have been linked to later problems in learning and school performance in childhood,” said Dr. Frederica P. Perera, the senior author of the study and director of the center. “These are warning signs that we should take seriously.” The researchers urged pregnant women not to smoke, not to allow others in their home to smoke, and to, uh, move far away from industrial societies. We’re kidding about that last bit.