London: Babies born in
cities face a number of health problems, as more and more people
are shunning pastoral life to stay in urban centres.
In 1900, only 14 percent of the global population lived in cities.
In 2008 that figure leaped to 50 percent. By 2050, the United
Nations predicts that 70 percent of people will be urbanites.
City-slickers, compared with their rural counterparts, are
wealthier and have better job prospects. They enjoy bountiful
food, superior healthcare and cleaner sanitation.
But healthwise, they are exposed to mental illness, immune
diseases, arthritis, heart disease, cancer and fertility problems.
Daily exposure to pollution can set us up for a lifetime of
ill-health. And as cities become ever more crowded, these problems
are only going to get worse.
The latest studies indicate that daily exposure to urban pollution
can affect us before we are even born - leaving us prone to a
lifetime of ill-health, the Daily Mail reports.
Scientists have discovered that babies born in cities are bigger
and heavier - normally a good sign - than those born in the
But when they compared the placentas of mothers from a busy city
and a quiet rural district, they found that the city mums had far
higher levels of chemical pollutants called xenoestrogens in their
blood - and in that of their unborn babies.
Xenoestrogens are industrial chemicals that affect our bodies in
similar ways to the female hormone, oestrogen.They are found in
petrol fumes and are more abundant in industrial areas than the
As well as causing excess foetal growth, they have been linked to
problems such as obesity, hyperactivity, early puberty, fertility
problems and cancers of the lung, breast and prostate.
The researchers, from the University of Granada, Spain, found that
although city mothers were older and weighed less than rural
mothers, they still gave birth to larger babies.
Maria Marcos, who led the study, says the toxic xenoestrogens seem
to have a significant effect on the development of unborn
children. Her report provides the latest evidence that city air
can seriously hinder normal childhood development.