Medical

Air pollution may cause permanent damage to your child's brain

Air pollution may cause permanent damage to your child's brain

"Not only do pollutants harm babies' developing lungs - they can permanently damage their developing brains - and, thus, their futures", UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said in a press release.

NEW DELHI | The united Nations has drawn Wednesday to sound the alarm about the dangers posed by air pollution to the developing brains of babies, a scourge that particularly affects the Asian.

About 17 million babies worldwide live in areas where outdoor air pollution is six times the recommended limit, and their brain development is at risk, the United Nations children's agency (UNICEF) said on Wednesday.

The East Asia and Pacific region is home to some 4.3 million babies living in areas with pollution levels at least six times higher than worldwide limits.

Its report, "Danger in the air: How air pollution can affect brain development in young children", states that breathing in particulate air pollution can both undermine cognitive development and damage brain tissue.

The report finds a possible link between prenatal exposures and delayed development of an infant's brain, along with psychological and behavioural problems that may occur later in childhood.

One study reports a four-point drop in IQ by the age of 5 among a sample of children exposed in utero to toxic air pollution, it said.




"Protecting children from air pollution not only benefits children", Lake added.

The World Health Organization describes air pollution as a "major environmental risk to health". "But this growing body of research does provide an indication of the scale of harm", said the UNICEF.

The fine particles of urban pollution can damage the blood-brain barrier, the membrane that protects the brain from toxic substances, exacerbating the risk of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease in the elderly.

The paper urges parents to take steps to reduce children's exposure to harmful chemicals, including from tobacco products and cooking stoves.

It called for a greater use of masks, air filtration systems and for children to avoid travelling when pollution levels are at their highest.

"A lot of focus goes on making sure children have good quality education - but also important is the development of the brain itself", Rees added.