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expert reaction to study looking at the effect of air pollution during pregnancy on a child’s neurodevelopment

A study published in Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology looks at air pollution during the perinatal period and neurodevelopment in children in Taiwan.


Prof Andrew Whitelaw, Emeritus Professor of Neonatal Medicine, University of Bristol, said:

“This study confirms a small number of previous studies linking children´s impaired development with air pollution in pregnancy with 2.5 micron particles.  These particles are invisible and have no smell. 2.5 micron particles can cross the placenta and have been shown to adversely affect developing brain cells At 6 to 18 months, fine and gross motor development was adversely affected as well as personal-social skills. 

“A strength of this study is the large number of children, 17,683 surveyed from all over Taiwan and 71 air pollution monitoring stations in both urban and rural areas contributed measurements. The statistical analysis is conventional and the authors have done their best to adjust for potential confounders such as maternal education, smoking, age and household income. All the monitoring was outdoors where construction, industry vehicles and road traffic are the main sources of particles. No monitoring was done inside homes so there is no information particle pollution from cooking. 

“It is alarming that the average level of particle air pollution in Taiwan was about 36 microgram/ cubic meter which is more than three times the safe limit of 10 microgram/cubic meter defined by the World Health Organisation. This level of particle air pollution would be possible but unusual in the UK. 

“This study from Taiwan underlines the importance of public awareness of the many serious effects of air pollution on health and the importance of widespread monitoring so that efforts will be made to reduce air pollution inside and outside the home.”



Air pollution during the perinatal period and neurodevelopment in children: A national population study in Taiwan’ by Ping Shih et al. was published in Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology at 08:01 UK TIME Wednesday 9 November 2022.

DOI: 10.1111/dmcn.15430



Declared interests

No reply to our request for DOIs was received.


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