But traffic related noise seems to have no effect. They estimated average monthly concentrations of traffic-related pollutants by looking at the mother's home address at the time of birth.
"Our findings indicate that in traffic congested streets, like London's Oxford Street, the health benefits of walking do not always outweigh the risk from traffic pollution", said senior author Professor Fan Chung, from the National Heart & Lung Institute at Imperial College London.
But Professor Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at The Open University, warned that The BMJ study could not definitively conclude that it was the air pollution causing low birth weight in these cases.
The project was also supported by the UK Natural Environment Research Council, the Medical Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Department of Health.
New UK research has found that exposure to air pollution on busy urban streets can cancel out the beneficial effects of exercise in older adults.
The research was carried out in collaboration with United States colleagues from Duke University.
In the study, researchers recruited 119 volunteers through the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, who were over the age of 60 and were either healthy, had stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), or had stable heart disease.
Physical measurements were taken before and after the walks to show the effects of the exercise on cardiovascular health, including measurements of lung volume exhaled, blood pressure, and the degree to which the blood vessels could expand.
The British Heart Foundation says the cardiovascular benefits of a brisk walk along Oxford Street are completely negated by exposure to air pollution for the over 60s.
The findings, published December 5th in The Lancet, show that those who walked in Hyde Park saw in an improvement in lung capacity and decrease in arterial stiffness within the first hour.
By comparison, a walk along Oxford Street led to a smaller increase during the first hours and no increase later.
However, those who got exposed to pollution experienced a maximum reduction of just 4.6 per cent in arterial stiffness, 16 per cent reduction in COPD and an 8.6 per cent reduction in heart disease.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan claims he is taking "tough measures" to combat air pollution in the capital, such as writing to BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen asking them to contribute to the fund set up to tackle the capital's air pollution crisis.
"Combined with evidence from other recent studies, our findings underscore that we can't really tolerate the levels of air pollution that we now find on our busy streets", said Fan Chung, professor of respiratory medicine and head of experimental studies medicine at Imperial College's National Heart and Lung Institute. "We suggest that, where possible, older adults walk in parks or other green spaces away from busy roads".
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