Child cancer has been extremely rare in the past. The prevalence of cancer is around 1 in 1,000 girls, but it is as high as 3 or 4 in areas with significant toxic contaminants.
Scholars started to perceive the prevalence of contaminated air as affecting not only those that breathe it but also fetuses that develop in the uterus. In 1973, the first study of the impact of air pollution on birth outcomes in Los Angeles established a correlation between uterine exposure to air pollution and low birth weight. Since then, researchers have uncovered myriad health effects in children tied to the quality of the air their mothers breathed while pregnant, and one of it is childhood cancer.
Scientists at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, studied the data of children who died of cancer on the basis of a diagram marked by chemical pollution. Children who spend 1 km around toxic chemical pollution in their fetuses have a risk of dying from cancer when they live 2 to 4 times the distance 16 kilometers away from the chemical.
Scientists believe that most cancers in children may be caused by high concentrations of chemicals in the period before birth. Among them, fetuses living in carbon monoxide (the product of internal combustion engines) or butadiene (the raw material for the production of synthetic rubber) have the highest risk of cancer.