Air Pollution may lead to premature birth, poor brain development: Experts

New Delhi: Newborns and children are more susceptible to the air pollution inside and outside homes which may have adverse impact on their cognitive development.

The polluted air affects unborn children in mothers womb which may lead to premature birth affecting brain and cognitive development of the baby, said Dr Chandra Mohan Kumar, Additional Professor, Pediatrics, AIIMS Patna.

He said that air pollution is one of the major killers of under five children accounting for 1:10 deaths indirectly as an underlying cause. More than 90 per cent children below 15 years of age are breathing toxic air and the figure goes to as high as 98 per cent in low and middle income countries as compared to 50 odd per cent in developed nations, said Dr Kumar.

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Citing the reason for children being disproportionately more susceptible to the effects of air pollution, he said, “They breathe more rapidly as well as they also live closer to the ground, where some pollutants reach peak concentrations and absorb more pollutants”.

Post Diwali, the national capital has the worst air quality of all world capitals. The air quality in Delhi continues to be in ‘very poor category’.

According to authorities, the air quality is likely to improve ‘significantly’ from Sunday owing to relatively strong winds and may reach ‘poor’ category.

Dr Rakesh Bagdi, Pediatric at Lady Hardinge Medical College, says that children are more prone to develop the symptoms of Pneumonia due to alarming air pollution. He said that the air pollution harms the children during the developmental stage of their life, causing lifelong health problems. “Exposure to air pollution at a young age can hinder lung growth, inhibit brain development and increase the risk of conditions such as asthma and can increase the risk of pneumonia”, said Dr Rakesh.

Respiratory problems like difficulty in breathing, pneumonia and infection in eyes and burning sensation are the most common symptoms in children. Hospitals in the capital have seen an increase in the number of child patients visiting hospitals with these symptoms.

“Keeping children indoors in the house as much as possible, giving them water and other liquid at regular intervals, berating indoor exercise and use of masks are some preventive measures for children, said Delhi based Sr Consultant Dr Rajeev Ranjan.

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