A study conducted before and after the 2004 closure of a coal-burning power plant in Tongliang, China, found that children born before the closure had shorter telomeres than those conceived and born after the plant stopped polluting the air. Results appear in the journal Environment International . Telomeres are specialized sections of DNA that allow chromosomes to be copied faithfully during cell division. However, with each round of cell division, telomeres shorten, resulting in a gradual loss of genomic stability. Shortened telomere length has been linked to cancer and heart disease, cognitive decline, aging, and premature death. Led by Deliang Tang and Frederica Perera at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, the research team analyzed telomere length in the umbilical cord blood of 255 newborns, about half of whom were born before the plant closure and half of whom were conceived and born after. In babies born pre-closure, […]