Babies Suffer When Pregnant Moms are Exposed to Polluted Air, But Folic Acid & Clean Energy Can Help

Babies Suffer When Pregnant Moms are Exposed to Polluted Air, But Folic Acid & Clean Energy Can Help

August 20, 2019

Air pollution hurts people with asthma. And, polluted air makes it harder for people with heart disease. Last week a new study came out that shows that when a pregnant woman breathes polluted air, it also harms their baby’s brain. That harm shows up as a loss of IQ points measured at ages 4 to 6.

The link between air pollution and IQ loss is the major finding of a study by nine research scientists in Tennessee, Washington and California published in the September 2019 issue of Environmental Research. The scientists show how greater exposure to the particulates in air pollution during pregnancy results in lower IQ scores in 1500 mother-child pairs in Shelby County, Tennessee.

The study also found that when the pregnant woman has more of the B vitamin folate in her body, there was less IQ damage to her child. Folate comes from eating leafy green vegetables, oranges, and beans. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate in vitamins and fortified bread, pasta and cereal.  Getting enough folate/folic acid has long been the medical advice to pregnant women to prevent birth defects of the brain and spine.

This study provides new evidence that having enough folate can also help a pregnant woman protect her baby’s IQ today, while we work towards a future with less air pollution from fossil fuel burning and clean energy for everyone.

HBBF’s Health and Clean Energy webpage features more information on the scientific link between fossil fuels and neurological harm and damages to health from coal-fired power plants.