Έρευνα: Σωματίδια ρύπων του αέρα φθάνουν μέχρι τον πλακούντα του εμβρύου

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Μικροσκοπικά αερομεταφερόμενα σωματίδια της αιθάλης (ακάθαρτα σωματίδια άνθρακα συνήθως από την καύση ορυκτών καυσίμων) μπορούν να διασχίσουν τον πλακούντα και να φθάσουν στην πλευρά του εμβρύου, σύμφωνα με μια νέα βελγική επιστημονική έρευνα. Είναι η πρώτη φορά που υπάρχουν βάσιμα στοιχεία πως αυτά τα σωματίδια των ρύπων του αέρα είναι σε θέση να φθάσουν στο εσωτερικό μέρος του πλακούντα που τρέφει το αναπτυσσόμενο έμβρυο.

Αυτό πιθανώς εξηγεί γιατί, όπως έχουν δείξει προηγούμενες μελέτες, η ατμοσφαιρική ρύπανση συνδέεται με αυξημένο κίνδυνο αποβολής της εγκύου, πρόωρου τοκετού και γέννησης λιποβαρούς μωρού. Οι έγκυες καλά θα κάνουν, σύμφωνα με τους επιστήμονες, να αποφεύγουν δρόμους με μεγάλη κυκλοφορία οχημάτων και γενικότερα περιοχές με μεγάλη ατμοσφαιρική ρύπανση.

Ο πλακούντας περιλαμβάνει τον μητρικό (αποτελείται από ιστό της μήτρας) και τον εμβρυικό (από τον ίδιο ιστό που σχηματίζει το έμβρυο). Το οξυγόνο και οι θρεπτικές ουσίες από τον μητρικό πλακούντα φθάνουν στον εμβρυικό και μεταφέρονται τελικά στο έμβρυο μέσω του ομφάλιου λώρου. Την ανάποδη διαδρομή ακολουθούν το διοξείδιο του άνθρακα και οι περιττές ουσίες που αποβάλλονται από το έμβρυο.

Είναι ήδη γνωστό ότι ουσίες όπως το αλκοόλ, η νικοτίνη του καπνού και ορισμένα φάρμακα μπορούν να διαπεράσουν τον πλακούντα και γι’ αυτό δίνεται η συμβουλή στις εγκύους να τα αποφεύγουν. Η νέα έρευνα έρχεται να προσθέσει την αιθάλη σε αυτές τις ουσίες που μπορούν να διασχίσουν τον πλακούντα.

Οι ερευνητές, με επικεφαλής τον καθηγητή Τιμ Νάργουοτ του βελγικού Πανεπιστημίου Χάσελτ, που έκαναν τη σχετική δημοσίευση στο περιοδικό “Nature Communications”, σύμφωνα με το BBC και το πρακτορείο Ρόιτερς, μελέτησαν τους πλακούντες πέντε μωρών που είχαν γεννηθεί πρόωρα και 23 που είχαν γεννηθεί κανονικά. Σε όλες τις περιπτώσεις – ανεξαρτήτως της διάρκειας της κύησης- ανιχνεύθηκαν σωματίδια αιθάλης και στις δύο πλευρές του πλακούντα, τόσο στον μητρικό όσο και στον εμβρυικό. Βρέθηκαν χιλιάδες τέτοια νανοσωματίδια σε κάθε κυβικό χιλιοστό ιστού του πλακούντα.

Οι μητέρες που ζούσαν πολύ κοντά σε δρόμους με μεγάλη κυκλοφορία οχημάτων και άρα είχαν εκτεθεί σε μεγαλύτερη ατμοσφαιρική ρύπανση κατά την εγκυμοσύνη τους, είχαν τα υψηλότερα επίπεδα αιθάλης στον πλακούντα τους (κατά μέσο όρο περίπου 20.000 σωματίδια ανά κυβικό χιλιοστό). Σαφώς μικρότερα (κατά μέσο όρο 10.000 σωματίδια ανά κυβικό χιλιοστό) ήσαν τα επίπεδα αιθάλης στον πλακούντα όσων εγκύων ζούσαν σε απόσταση μεγαλύτερη των 500 μέτρων από τέτοιους δρόμους.

Οι επιστήμονες θεωρούν βέβαιο πλέον ότι η αιθάλη, που εισέρχεται στους πνεύμονες της γυναίκας, καταλήγει στον πλακούντα της. «Τα ευρήματα μας δείχνουν ότι το φράγμα του ανθρώπινου πλακούντα δεν είναι αδιαπέραστο για τα σωματίδια. Περαιτέρω έρευνα πρέπει να αποδείξει ότι τα σωματίδια όντως φθάνουν στο έμβρυο», δήλωσε ο δρ Νάργουοτ. Ήδη, οι ερευνητές έχουν ξεκινήσει αναλύσεις στο αίμα εμβρύων για να δουν κατά πόσο τα σωματίδια αιθάλης σχετίζονται με βλάβες στο εμβρυικό DNA.

«Οι γυναίκες δεν πρέπει να γίνουν παρανοϊκές από φόβο ακόμη και να περπατήσουν στο δρόμο, αλλά πρέπει να σκεφτούν με ποιό τρόπο θα μειώσουν την έκθεση τους στους ρύπους», δήλωσε ο καθηγητής Τζόναθαν Γκριγκ του Πανεπιστημίου Queen Mary του Λονδίνου.

Το 90% του παγκόσμιου πληθυσμού ζει σε μέρη όπου η ρύπανση του αέρα ξεπερνά τις συστάσεις του Παγκόσμιου Οργανισμού Υγείας.

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