When you have a baby growing in your belly, it doesn’t feel like the air you breathe will have any affect on the developing fetus. Of course, the foods you eat and the beverages you drink go straight to your belly, so you’re extra careful about those. Since air has nothing to do with the digestive tract, we tend to assume it simply passes through without touching our reproductive system. However, a recent study proved just how much of an effect chemicals and substances in the air can have on a growing baby.

The study was conducted to test the influence of house dust mites on a fetus after the mother breathes them in. Incredibly, the dust mites that were in the air were actually found in the baby’s cord blood. In other words, when you breathe in the dust mites in your own home, they make it through your system and can be found in your baby’s system. While this study only tested dust mites, the same is probably true for other airborne contaminants. Just as you should be careful about what you eat and drink when you are pregnant, you should also be cautious about what you are breathing in.

When babies are exposed to a lot of dust mites early on in utero, they are more likely to develop allergy problems later in life, such as atopic dermatitis. For that reason, you should try to make sure the house is always sufficiently dusted and clean during your pregnancy. Cleaning and tidying up can be difficult later in your pregnancy, so ask for help when you need it. Even if you need to hire a maid to keep things in order for the duration of your gestation, the upfront cost will be worth the outcome.

It’s easy to avoid unhealthy food and drinks during your pregnancy, as you have full control over what you put into your mouth. On the other hand, controlling what type of contaminants you breathe in can be much more difficult, as many dangerous airborne materials are invisible and scentless. Breathing in dust mites here and there in small volumes will not have a negative effect on your baby’s development, but try keeping contact with dust during your pregnancy to a minimum. Doing so could save your child a lot of trouble later in his or her life, as it could keep them allergy-free.

Source: MM Hagendorens et al: Prenatal Exposure To House Dust Mite Allergen, Cord Blood T Cell Phenotype And Cytokine Production And Atopic Dermatitis During The First Year Of Life. Pediatric Allergy Immunology Volume 15 Issue 4 pp. 308-315 August 2011

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