Published: Wed, December 06, 2017
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

Babies' brains at risk from toxic pollution

Babies' brains at risk from toxic pollution

The paper outlines urgent steps to reduce the impact of air pollution on babies' growing brains, including immediate actions for parents to decrease children's exposure at home to harmful fumes produced by tobacco products, cook stoves and heating fires.

Danger in the Air, notes that breathing in particulate air pollution can damage brain tissue and undermine cognitive development – with lifelong implications and setbacks.

Seventeen million babies under the age of one are breathing toxic air, putting their brain development at risk, the United Nations children's agency has warned.

India tops the list of countries with the highest number of babies exposed, followed by China, says Unicef in a report entitled "Danger In The Air" made public Wednesday.

"Protecting children from air pollution not only benefits children", Lake added. Air pollution has known links to asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis and other respiratory infections.

The global humanitarian group says worldwide toxic air levels in some areas are six times higher than recommended limits and that many of those zones were found in South Asia where 12 million at-risk babies live.

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The report highlights the relationship between pollution and brain functions " like memory and verbal IQ and non-verbal, test results, lower scores among schoolchildren, as well as other neurological problems ".

There are 136 million children under the age of 1 globally, which means one in eight are being exposed to toxic air, the United Nations children's fund said.

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. "As yet, we know the minimum - but not the maximum - extent of the harm".

UNICEF urged more efforts to cut pollution, and also to reduce children's exposure to the poisonous smog which has frequently reached hazardous levels in Indian cities in recent weeks.

Rees said masks help "but very importantly they have to have good filters and they also have to fit children's faces well".

“Protecting children from air pollution not only benefits children.

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