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Prenatal Exposure to Traffic Pollution May Lead to Asthma

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Traffic pollution may generate genetic changes in the womb that could increase a child's risk of developing asthma, according to new research on umbilical cord blood.

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The findings may potentially help predict environmentally-related asthma in children.

"Our data support the concept that environmental exposure can interact with genes during key developmental periods to trigger disease onset later in life, and that tissues are being reprogrammed to become abnormal later," said Shuk-mei Ho, chairwoman of UC's Department of Environmental Health and director of the Center for Environmental Genetics.

"Understanding early predictors of asthma is an important area of investigation because they represent potential clinical targets for intervention," added study co-author Dr. Rachel Miller, director of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health.

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