Then, using the infant’s home addresses from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality System, the researchers estimated each infant’s exposure to air pollution. And overall, the team found that greater air pollution was associated with more inflammation of gut microorganisms– which can lead to numerous adverse long-term health outcomes.
For example, infants with high exposure to PM2.5, which are fine inhalable particles from construction sites, factories, wildfires, and more, had sixty percent less Phascolarctobacterium– which is known to support gastrointestinal health, lower inflammation, and contribute to neurodevelopment.
Moreover, low-income communities are at an even greater risk for these adverse health outcomes since they are often located closer to highly trafficked highways and factories.
“Our findings highlight the importance of addressing the impact of pollution on disadvantaged communities and point to additional steps all families can take to protect their health,” Alderete said.
In turn, the researchers have advised both current and expectant parents to avoid walking outside in regions that are highly trafficked, invest in low-cost air filtration systems, and open the windows when cooking at home.
Finally, if you are able to continue nursing your infant, the team suggests doing so for as long as possible. This is because a mother’s milk can be instrumental in shaping a healthy gut microbiome and offsetting some adverse environmental effects.
To read the study’s complete findings, which have since been published in Gut Microbes, you can visit the link here.
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