A new report links remnants of a once-common pesticide to lung infections and wheezing in kids exposed to the chemical before birth.
Known as DDE, the compound is a broken-down form of the harmful pesticide DDT and is found in many places around the world. It is absorbed into a person's body when they eat contaminated food or breathe contaminated dust.
The study, published in the European Respiratory Journal, shows babies exposed to high levels of DDE in the womb grew up to have higher rates of pneumonia and bronchitis.
"We found that the risk of infections and wheeze increased with increasing DDE exposure," Martine Vrijheid, associate professor at the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Spain, told Reuters Health by email.
Vrijheid and her colleagues took blood samples from a large group of pregnant women in Spain, measuring the women's exposure to three different pollutants.
Later, when the babies were about a year old, the researchers asked the mothers whether their toddlers had had breathing trouble or lung infections.