Air pollution can affect brain development of over 12 mln

Henrietta Strickland
December 6, 2017

"Not only do pollutants harm babies' developing lungs - they can permanently damage their developing brains - and, thus, their futures", said UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake. The reports came during the time when India, especially Delhi, the capital of the nation is already on the top list regarding pollution. Excessive air pollution could put brain development at risk. Also the report claimed that in East Asia and the Pacific, there are approximately four point three million babies who are breathing toxic air.

In Delhi, the air pollution situation worsens in the winters with stringent measures like closure of schools announced during emergency levels of particulate matters in the air.

Almost 17 million babies under the age of one are living in places where air pollution is "at least six times higher" than worldwide limits, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

Another 4.3 million babies in the East Asia and Pacific region live in areas with pollution levels at least six times higher than the global recommendation.

Pollutants inhaled by pregnant women may pass through the placenta and disturb the development of the brain of the foetus. Research has also proven that there is a link between prenatal exposures to high levels of air pollution and even delays the development of kids, as well as affect the psychological and behavioural problems later during their childhood, which include symptoms of attention that deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression.

The World Health Organization describes air pollution as a "major environmental risk to health".

The report said further research was needed to study the full impact of air pollution on children's developing brains.

Scientists have not conclusively proved findings about air pollution's effects on brain development, but a rapidly growing body of evidence creates "reason for concern", UNICEF's Nicholas Rees, the report's author, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Lake called on countries exceeding global limits to step up efforts to reduce air pollution.

The united Nations is calling on governments to intensify the fight against pollution as well as to strengthen the protection of children, including through the use of facial masks and filtration systems of the air.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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