Air pollution has become an emerging invisible killer in recent years and is a major cause of morbidity and mortality globally. More than 90% of the world’s children breathe toxic air every day. India is among the top ten most highly polluted countries with an average PM10
level of 134 μg/m3
per year. It is reported that 99% of India’s population encounters air pollution levels that exceed the World Health Organization Air Quality Guideline, advising a PM2.5
permissible level of 10 μg/m3
. Maternal exposure to air pollution has serious health outcomes in offspring because it can affect embryonic phases of development during the gestation period. A fetus is more prone to effects from air pollution during embryonic developmental phases due to resulting oxidative stress as antioxidant mechanisms are lacking at that stage. Any injury during this vulnerable period (embryonic phase) will have a long-term impact on offspring health, both early and later in life. Epidemiological studies have revealed that maternal exposure to air pollution increases the risk of development of airway disease in the offspring due to impaired lung development in utero. In this review, we discuss cellular mechanisms involved in maternal exposure to air pollution and how it can impact airway disease development in offspring. A better understanding of these mechanisms in the context of maternal exposure to air pollution can offer a new avenue to prevent the development of airway disease in offspring.
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