Impaired fetal development is associated with a number of adult chronic diseases. It is believed that these associations arise as a result of the phenomenon of “epigenetic programming”, which involves persisting changes in structure and function of various body organs caused by ambient factors during critical and vulnerable periods of early development.
The main goal of this study was to test the hypothesis that prenatal exposure to fine particulate matter, which represents a wide range of chemical compounds potentially hazardous for fetal development, may be associated with impaired lung function of children.
Development of the fetus proceeds in a sequence of carefully timed events that progress from the cellular level to the formation of tissues and morphologic structures such as lung. Prenatal hazards may permanently change these developmental processes. The issue is of great importance since impaired fetal development and its consequences in postnatal life is associated with a number of adult chronic diseases.
The study assessed the association between lung function in early childhood and prenatal exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5). The findings showed that significant lung function deficits in early childhood are associated with prenatal exposure to fine particulate matter, which may affect fetal lung growth.