Beware the air you breathe, moms-to-be. Dirty air can lower your kids' IQ before they're even born.
The 5-year-old children of New York City moms who frequently inhaled car- and truck-polluted air when they were pregnant scored substantially lower on IQ tests than children with less exposure to smog, according to a new study.
Researchers equipped 249 moms-to-be from upper Manhattan and the South Bronx with backpack air monitors to wear during the final few months of their pregnancies and discovered that the pre-schoolers of those women scored four or five points lower on IQ tests than children who had not been exposed to pollution in the womb, reports the Daily News.
That five-point deficit could have a significant impact on the kids' school performance over time, Federick Perera, director of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health, told the News.
The study also indicates that pre-natal exposure to pollution could be just as detrimental to brain development as lead exposure, which offers insight into why urban youth tend to perform poorer academically than their counterparts in wealthier areas, John Hopkins' environmental health specialist Patrick Breysse told the News.
It's not clear how much, if at all, exposure to pollution after birth affected the children's test scores. Scientists say more research is needed. The study is published in the August edition of Pediatrics.