A new study shows a correlation between mothers exposed to toxic air pollution and their babies being born with compromised neurological development.
The study, conducted by Columbia University and Chongqing Medical University, examined mothers and children living near a now defunct coal power plant in China. The study consisted of non-smoking women who had their children in 2002, when the plant was still active. Then the researchers studied women who became pregnant and gave birth in 2005, after the plant was shut down.
Both groups of children were studied for neurological development, and it was found that the children born while the plant was active lacked a necessary protein for development and showed diminished learning and memory abilities. The plant they lived near had air pollution levels eight times the U.S. limit.
“I wasn’t anticipating such a clear difference when we compared the first and second cohorts, and this shows how much of an impact effective policies can have on local populations,” said Columbia’s Deliang Tang, lead author of the report.