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Pollutants cause fetal growth retardation

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LOS ANGELES, Nov 16, 2005 (UPI via COMTEX) -- A University of Southern California study suggests babies born to women exposed to high ozone levels during pregnancy are at risk for being underweight.

The researchers found women who breathe air heavily polluted with ozone are at risk for having babies afflicted with intra uterine growth retardation. That means their babies only fall within the 15th percentile of expected size.

"These findings add further evidence that our ozone standards are not protecting the most vulnerable members of the population," said Dr. Frank Gilliland, Southern California professor of preventive medicine and the study's senior author.

Carbon monoxide levels were also found to result in similar birth weight problems.

Although a natural layer of ozone in the stratosphere helps protect life on Earth from the sun's rays, ozone at ground level is harmful to health. It's created from tailpipe exhaust, gasoline vapors and industrial emissions.

"Fetal growth and birth weight are strongly linked to morbidity and mortality during childhood and adulthood," Gilliland said, "so it's clear that air quality is important to everyone's healthy development."

The findings were published early online by Environmental Health Perspectives, the journal of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences.


Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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