Can Folate (VItamin B 9) Offset Air Pollution’s Harm During Pregnancy?

Can Folate (VItamin B 9) Offset Air Pollution’s Harm During Pregnancy?

Pregnant women exposed to higher levels of air pollutants had children with lower IQs, compared to the children of women exposed to lower levels, a new study reports.

Researchers looked at 1,005 pregnant women participating in the Conditions Affecting Neurodevelopment and Learning study, set in Shelby County, Tennessee, and assessed the IQs of their offspring between the ages of 4 and 6.

As reported in Environmental Research, the findings show a negative association between IQ and exposure to PM10—pollutant particles with a diameter of one-seventh the width of a human hair that come from industry, power plants, cars, air traffic, and railways. Children with mothers in the highest 10 percent of exposure had IQ scores 2.5 points lower than those in the lower 10 percent.

When the researchers looked at plasma levels of maternal folate, found naturally in leafy vegetables, beans, and citrus fruit, and recommended for all pregnant women in its synthetic form as folic acid, they found the difference between offspring IQs in the highest and lowest PM10-exposed groups had widened to 6.8 points among those whose mothers had the lowest levels (bottom 25 percent) of folate.


 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

PM10 exposure had no impact on IQ if maternal levels of folate were higher, the researchers found.

While the study underlines the importance of folic acid in pregnancy, there may be such a thing as too much folic acid supplementation, says first author Christine Loftus, an epidemiologist from the environmental & occupational health sciences department at the University of Washington.

“Although supplementation has been shown to be protective against neural tube defects, which are devastating birth defects of the central nervous system, recent research suggests that too much prenatal folic acid may impair healthy fetal neurodevelopment,” Loftus says. “The dose of folic acid is something that pregnant women should discuss with their doctors.”

Researchers have linked long-term exposure to PM10 to reduced lung function and the development of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. In this study, researchers did not find that other pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide, which is a marker for high-concentration motor traffic, affected IQ.

The authors say that they could not explain how PM10 exposure contributes to lower IQ, but that animal studies indicate that air pollution exposure increases maternal inflammation and oxidative stress.

“This could result in placental inflammation and may interfere with placental or fetal epigenetic programming,” says senior author Kara LeWinn, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.

“While it’s beyond the scope of our paper to understand how folate might alter this association, it is possible that higher folate levels increase the antioxidant capability of the diet, buffering oxidative stress associated with PM10 exposure.

“It may also be that folate itself is protective, since it plays an important role in healthy neurodevelopment, regardless of air pollution exposure.”

About the Authors

Additional coauthors are from the University of Washington, UC San Francisco, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and the University of Tennessee. The National Institutes of Health and the Urban Child Institute supported the work.

Source: University of Washington

books_health

More By This Author

AVAILABLE LANGUAGES

English Afrikaans Arabic Chinese (Simplified) Chinese (Traditional) Danish Dutch Filipino Finnish French German Greek Hebrew Hindi Hungarian Indonesian Italian Japanese Korean Malay Norwegian Persian Polish Portuguese Romanian Russian Spanish Swahili Swedish Thai Turkish Ukrainian Urdu Vietnamese

Sunday, 16 May 2021 14:24

The human body is an amazing thing, full of systems, organs, nerves, and vessels that work together in harmony. You’ve seen the body described as a machine, as a city, or even as a factory....

Wednesday, 26 May 2021 08:54

The term “exercise is medicine” is rightfully well publicised. It’s one of the best ways to stay healthy, yet medicine doesn’t work if you aren’t prepared to take it.

Monday, 07 June 2021 08:07

Injury to the adult brain is all too common. A brain injury will often show up on brain scans as a well-defined area of damage. But often the changes to the brain extend far beyond the visible...

Friday, 28 July 2023 17:45

Respiratory viruses like influenza virus (flu), SARS-CoV-2 (which causes COVID) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can make us sick by infecting our respiratory system, including the nose, upper...

Thursday, 13 May 2021 08:34

Iron deficiency is a common nutritional disorder worldwide, and pre-menopausal women are most at risk of being diagnosed with it.

Friday, 14 May 2021 08:30

Fertility has declined in most industrialised countries. While the causes are largely unknown, a number of factors may contribute to declining fertility rates, including the age...

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.