We already know that air pollution has been linked to not just respiratory illnesses, but also reduced memory and loss of intelligence in humans. Now a new study by researchers from the University of Southern California found that early exposure to vehicular emissions increases the risk of obesity in children.
Babies exposed to high levels of nitrogen dioxide in the first year of life gained weight much faster, according to the analysis of 2,318 children in southern California. By the age of 10, those children were on average 2.2 pounds heavier than those with low exposure.
The researchers came to this conclusion after adjusting for age, sex, race/ethnicity, parental education and other factors.
“Beyond mid-childhood exposures, early life periods like in utero and first year of life represent critical windows of air pollution exposure that may significantly alter childhood growth trajectories,” the study states.