Air pollution from road traffic is putting unborn babies’ health at risk, according to a new study.

The findings published in the BMJ suggest exposure to traffic pollution in London during pregnancy is linked to low birth weight.

A team led by Imperial College London used national birth registers to study more than 540,000 births in Greater London between 2006 and 2010.

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Researchers estimated average monthly concentrations of traffic-related pollutants by looking at the mother’s home address at the time of birth. An analysis of the data found increases in traffic-related air pollutants were associated with two per cent to six per cent increased odds of low birth weight and one per cent to three per cent increased odds of being small for gestational age.

“The findings suggest that air pollution from road traffic in London is adversely affecting foetal growth,” the study’s authors concluded.