Particulate Matter, an Intrauterine Toxin Affecting Foetal Development and Beyond

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Antioxidants, 10, (5), pp. 732-732
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Air pollution is the 9th cause of the overall disease burden globally. The solid component in the polluted air, particulate matters (PMs) with a diameter of 2.5 μm or smaller (PM2.5) possess a significant health risk to several organ systems. PM2.5 has also been shown to cross the blood–placental barrier and circulate in foetal blood. Therefore, it is considered an intrauterine environmental toxin. Exposure to PM2.5 during the perinatal period, when the foetus is particularly susceptible to developmental defects, has been shown to reduce birth weight and cause preterm birth, with an increase in adult disease susceptibility in the offspring. However, few studies have thoroughly studied the health outcome of foetuses due to intrauterine exposure and the underlying mechanisms. This perspective summarises currently available evidence, which suggests that intrauterine exposure to PM2.5 promotes oxidative stress and inflammation in a similar manner as occurs in response to direct PM exposure. Oxidative stress and inflammation are likely to be the common mechanisms underlying the dysfunction of multiple systems, offering potential targets for preventative strategies in pregnant mothers for an optimal foetal outcome.
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