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Air pollutants can cross placental barrier and affect unborn babies, study finds

Unborn babies are in danger of being exposed to air pollutants as new research has found air pollution particles on the unborn side of the placenta.

The research is the first to show that the air particles breathed in by the mother can cross the placental barrier and potentially affect the unborn baby. Thousands of the tiny particles per cubic millimetre of tissue were found in every placenta analysed.

Damage to unborn babies at this early stage of development can have lifelong consequences and Professor Tim Nawrot at Hasselt University in Belgium, who led the study, said

“This is the most vulnerable period of life. All the organ systems are in development. For the protection of future generations, we have to reduce exposure.” 

Published in the journal Nature Communications, the research examined 25 placentas from non-smoking women in the town of Hasselt in Belgium.

In each case, researchers found black carbon particles on the unborn baby’s side of the placenta and the number correlated with air pollution levels experienced by the mothers.

They also examined placentas from babies who had died as a result of natural miscarriage. They found the black carbon particles were present even in unborn babies only 12 weeks old.

The detection of the particles on the foetal side of the placental barrier means it was very likely the foetuses themselves were exposed to the pollutants. Analysis of foetal blood for particles is now under way, as is research to see if the particles cause DNA damage.

Professor Jonathan Grigg of Queen Mary University of London, led a group which presented the first report of particles in five placentas in September, said:

“We should be protecting foetuses and this is another reminder that we need to get [air pollution] levels down,” he said.

According to Professor Nawrot, levels of pollutants can be particularly high near busy roads.

Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said:

“The detection of air pollutant particles on the unborn baby’s side of the placenta is obviously a concern for us all, but particularly for pregnant women and their unborn babies, and we should do what we can on an individual basis to minimise our exposure.”

“It is also interesting to note the Guardian’s use of language in this piece. It mentions the fact that the “unborn babies” and “unborn children” can be affected by air pollutants. This is of course correct but is in sharp contrast to their ‘News Style Guide’ which has a strong pro-abortion bias.”

“As this article was apparently attempting to emphasise the negative effects of air pollution, and did not mention abortion, the Guardian seemed content to use language that humanises the unborn child.”

Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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Dear reader

In 2020, the UK Government imposed an extreme abortion regime on Northern Ireland, which included a provision that legalised abortion right up to birth for disabilties including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot.

A new Bill has been launched at the Northern Ireland assembly that will remove the current provision that allows abortion for ‘severe fetal impairment’.

It is under these grounds in the regulations that babies with disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot can currently be singled out for abortion in Northern Ireland because of their disability and can be aborted right up to birth.

Before the new abortion regime was imposed on Northern Ireland in 2020, disability-selective abortion for conditions such as Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot was not legal and there was a culture of welcoming and supporting people with these disabilities rather than eliminating them.

This is reflected directly in the latest figures (2016) from the Department of Health in Northern Ireland, which show that while there were 52 children born with Down’s syndrome in Northern Ireland, in the same year only 1 child from Northern Ireland with Down’s syndrome was aborted in England and Wales. 

This contrasts with the situation in the rest of the United Kingdom where disability-selective abortion has been legal since 1967.

The latest available figures show that 90% of children diagnosed with Down’s syndrome before birth are aborted in England and Wales.

We are, therefore, asking people like you to take 30 seconds of your time and add your support to the campaign to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot in Northern Ireland.

If you live in Northern Ireland: 
Ask your MLAs to vote to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot:

If you live outside Northern Ireland: 
Show your support by signing this petition in support of the Bill:

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