Prof Richard Anderson, of Edinburgh University, said: “These are important results. “While this does not suggest a short-term problem for women trying to fall pregnant, it might indicate that women exposed to high levels of pollution might have a shorter opportunity to achieve a family, and even an earlier menopause. “Smoking can put women through the menopause early and if pollution has a similar effect, that highlights the need for better public health measures to protect against it. “We are all exposed to pollution to a greater or lesser extent and this study shows a substantial effect on female reproduction, although there may be other factors involved.
Prof Nick Macklon, medical director of London Women’s Clinic, said: “These results suggest that pollution can speed up biological ageing. “Exposure to these toxins might have similar effects on women’s long-term fertility to those we see from smoking. “With high enough exposures, they might reduce the amount of time they are fertile. “That is something women should be mindful of, if they are exposed to pollution day in day out.