First evidence polluted air may reach placenta, Seattle doctor discusses in light of wildfire smoke

VIDEO: Scientists say air pollution passes from pregnant mother to placenta

SEATTLE — A new study revealed Sunday in Paris shows for the first time, air pollution passes from a pregnant mother to the placenta.  Given the recent stretch of unhealthy air from wildfire smoke in Western Washington, KIRO 7 talked to Dr. Tanya Sorensen with Swedish Maternal Fetal Medicine, who read the study.

“To see evidence there's actually pollution in the placenta in these women is quite interesting,” Dr. Sorensen said Thursday.

The study was presented Sunday at the European Respiratory International Congress on Sunday. It suggests when women breathe polluted air, those particles can reach the placenta through the bloodstream.

Content Continues Below

KIRO 7 asked Dr. Sorensen her thoughts given the unhealthy air in August.

“Which is obnoxious for all of us,” she said. “But I think it's been a fairly short period of time and the levels of exposure probably are pretty low.”

Dr. Sorensen says that should be reassuring for pregnant mothers here. The study's authors say there's no evidence pollution particles reach the fetus, but say it shows they could.

“Generally speaking, I wouldn't worry about a short exposure,” Dr. Sorensen said. “Because the placenta is doing its job by clearing out particles and preventing them from getting to the baby. I think if you are in a place where there is a high level of pollution for the entire pregnancy it's probably more of a concern.”

Another study just started at UC Davis specifically to look at the impact of wildfire smoke on Pregnant women and newborns. They're accepting participants until Oct. 31 and KIRO 7 will follow it.

To find out more, email or call (916) 703-0228.

More news from KIRO 7