Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Prenatal PAH Exposure Causes Genetic Changes in Newborns

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Prenatal PAH Exposure Causes Genetic Changes in Newborns

Article excerpt

Research has suggested that in utero exposure to pollutants can cause DNA damage, chromosomal changes, and increased risk of childhood cancers such as leukemia. Other studies have indicated that pediatric leukemia is initiated prior to birth. Now NIEHS grantee Frederica Perera and colleagues at Columbia University demonstrate for the first time that prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) causes chromosomal changes that have been linked to leukemia and other cancers.

PAHs are a group of more than 100 different chemicals that are formed during the incomplete burning of almost any organic substance, including coal, oil, and gasoline. PAHs can cross the placenta, and many have been shown to cause cancer in animal studies.

The Columbia researchers used a technique known as fluorescence in situ hybridization to identify and count the number and types of chromosomal changes that occurred in a subset of 60 African-American and Dominican newborns from the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health Prospective Cohort Study in New York City. They measured chromosomal changes in cultured white blood cells from umbilical cord blood. …

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