According to a recent study conducted by the Tokyo University of Science, breathing in diesel exhaust during pregnancy can slow down the brain and motor activity of the mother's offspring.
The study was published in BioMed Central's open access journal Particle and Fibre Toxicology.

The findings came from a team of researchers at the university, which exposed a group of prenatal mice to a low concentration of diesel exhaust for eight hours a day. The team assessed the mice's spontaneous locomotor activity, or SLA. They found that exposure to diesel exhaust decreases SLA and alters the neurochemical monoamine metabolism of several regions of the brain.

"It has been reported that neonatal and adult exposure to diesel exhaust damages the central nervous system (CNS) and induces behavioral alteration," the authors said. "Recently, we have focused on the effects of prenatal exposure to diesel exhaust on the CNS. In this study, we examined the effects of prenatal exposure to low concentration of diesel exhaust on behaviour and the monoaminergic neuron system."

However, the study did not look at the indirect effect of diesel exhaust exposure via the mother's behavior toward the offspring, and how this could have altered the offspring's behavior. "Further investigations are needed to clarify the critical factor for the effects on offspring," the study said.

To read more about the study, click here.