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1,200 pregnant women to take part in study of environmental impact on prenatal life

Pioneering project in Barcelona is unique in aiming to begin collecting data from first trimester of pregnancy


06 November 2018 06:54 PM


ACN | Barcelona

A new study coordinated by Barcelona's Institute of Global Health (ISGlobal) aims to study the impact of air pollution on prenatal development, with the participation of some 1,200 pregnant women.

It will be one of the most complete studies ever carried out at an international level and will be unique for a number of reasons, such as, for example, collecting data from the first trimester of pregnancy.

"A very important part will consist of studying the placenta to try to discover if the "making" of a brain in the city of Barcelona is different depending on where the pregnant woman lives," said the head of the study, Jordi Sunyer.

Barcelona Life Study Cohort

ISGlobal will lead the project called BiSC (Barcelona Life Study Cohort), in conjunction with BCNatal, which is made up of the Sant Joan de Déu, Clínic and Universitat hospitals in Barcelona, as well as the Santa Creu i Sant Pau hospital, also in the Catalan capital.

"What will we find if we look at the impact of the environment at the very start of life, when development is quicker and more vulnerable?" This is the big question behind the BiSC project presented by Sunyer on Tuesday in Barcelona's Palau Macaya.

Environment's "structural impact" on the brain

The head of the Infancy and Environment program at ISGlobal said that the researchers expect to find that air pollution and the environment has a "structural impact" on brain development and other aspects, such as the formation of the heart, during fetal life.

Meanwhile, the director of BCNatal, Eduard Gratacós, said he hopes the study will "provide data that will be critical for making health policy," and added that studying the impact of air pollution on fetal development is a "great opportunity" for improving public health.

The project's heads stress the unique nature of the study, as those carried out thus far have analyzed pregnancy data retrospectively, after the baby has been born. The project will also be notable for the large number of participants, some 1,200 pregnant women.

Recruitment of participants underway

The project has already begun, with the recruitment of participants, and its heads made a call for pregnant women in the first trimester who live in Barcelona or nearby Esplugues de Llobregat (where the Sant Joan de Déu hospital is located) to take part.

The director of the Gynecology and Obstetrics service of the Santa Creu i Sant Pau hospital, Elisa Llurba, encouraged participation to help bring about "changes for improving the health of the new generations" in what will be a "revolution" against pollution.


  • A pregnant woman listens an expert during the study to measure environmental impact on prenatal life

  • A pregnant woman listens an expert during the study to measure environmental impact on prenatal life