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A. Low Birthweight Children Most Susceptible to Pollution-induced Asthma

Narrator: This is Science Today. A new study has found children born prematurely or of low birthweight have the most severe, smog-induced asthma symptoms later in life. Kathleen Mortimer, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Berkeley says there's been lots of evidence in general that children of low birthweight have more respiratory problems, but this was the first study that looked particularly at air pollution.

Mortimer: So it may be useful in identifying which groups are more responsive and whether the regulatory level are really protecting certain groups of the population. And it's also important because the rates of low birthweight are increasing and a lot of pre-term babies are surviving now that didn't used to survive - which is great, but you're also increasing the pool of people who seem to be greater responders to air pollution levels.

Narrator: Currently, it's recommended that asthmatic children stay inside on high air pollution days, but Mortimer notes the air pollution levels they studied were below the air quality standards.

Mortimer: And so it may help clinicians have a better idea about who is at greater risk on those days and whether they either have the child modify their behavior or their medication schedule or something maybe more useful.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.