Ground Zero Pollutants Caused Babies' Small Size
By Jeanie Lerche Davis
Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD
on Tuesday, August 05, 2003
WebMD Medical News
Aug. 5, 2003 -- The toxic plume at the World Trade Center disaster may have caused growth problems in babies born to exposed mothers.
A report, published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association, describes a pattern documented by doctors at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan.
The Sept. 11, 2001, destruction of the World Trade Center released a toxic atmospheric plume that contained soot, benzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), heavy metals, pulverized glass and cement, and alkaline particulates, writes lead researcher Gertrud S. Berkowitz, PhD, with the department of community and preventive medicine at Mt. Sinai.
In their study, Mt. Sinai doctors focused on 182 women who were pregnant and near Ground Zero -- either when the disaster occurred or within the next three weeks. They compared their findings with other pregnant patients who were not exposed to the pollutants.
Their results: There were no differences in length of pregnancies, average birth weight, preterm births, or low birth weight between babies in the two groups.
However, the World Trade Center babies were twice as likely to be smaller in size for their particular stage of pregnancy.
The main pollutants were likely PAH or the particulates, says Berkowitz. Whether there will be any long-term effects from the World Trade Center disaster is unclear and will require follow-up, suggest the authors.