Early exposure to airborne pollutants could increase the risk of infection in newborn babies.
New parents already have plenty of potential hazards to worry about, from flame-retardants in footed pajamas to hormone-disruptors in breast milk. A new study now adds air to the list of environmental concerns.
Chronic exposure to air pollution, the study found, increases a baby's chance of developing bronchiolitis -- a lung infection that is the most common cause of hospitalizations in the first year of life.
The findings suggest that parents and pediatricians need to work together to reduce infants' exposure to traffic and other sources of dirty air, said study author Catherine Karr, an academic pediatrician at the University of Washington, Seattle.
That's true no matter where families live, she added. Her study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, took place in the Pacific Northwest, which is known for its clean air and green living.
"This study adds to our understanding about infants and children as being susceptible to health risks from low-level, day-in, day-out exposure to contaminants," Karr said, "even in regions where we might not think it's a bad air pollution setting."