Air Pollution And Our Children
We do everything to protect our children and keep them healthy. Air pollution hurts them, so let's protect them from this invisible threat.
Pregnant mothers exposed to high levels of air pollution can hurt the development of their infants. Exposure to air pollution is linked with:
- low birth weight at term
- higher rates of early foetal loss
- preterm delivery
- reduction/delay in growth
Studies have found that this exposure is linked with developmental delays and lowered IQ by age 5. This exposure is also linked with psychological and behavioral problems later in childhood, including symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and depression.
There are several ways that air pollution potentially harms children’s brains:
- Pollution particles enter the bloodstream and damage the blood-brain barrier, which is a membrane that protects the brain from toxic substances
- Small toxic magnetite particles can enter the body to help cause neurodegenerative disease
- Particles can damage or decrease the amount of white matter, which is a part of the brain that is important for learning and development
Children are more vulnerable to air pollution than adults: their lungs are smaller and still growing, and they breathe more air per unit of bodyweight.
Air pollution can also reduce lung growth, which causes permanent health effects.
Long-term exposure to pollution can cause asthma, bronchitis, and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). It also makes existing health problems worse, particularly for children with chronic lung disease.
Air pollution is a leading cause of type-2 diabetes, and this association has also been shown for children.
Air pollution is associated with lowered metabolism in children.
How To Protect Your Child from Everyday Air Pollution
1. Monitor: Parents should track air pollution levels in their location everyday. Especially in cities such as Delhi, where pollution levels are very different for different parts of the city and can change from day-to-day, it’s important to check regularly.
2. Protect: If you are pregnant, you should take extra caution to protect yourself from pollution, as it can seriously hurt your child’s development. Parents should also take caution to protect their babies and children from air pollution by using air purifiers and pollution masks when air quality is poor. There are pollution masks specifically designed for children.
3. Consult: if your child is wheezing or coughing, take them to see a doctor to check if they have any respiratory conditions. Some conditions, such as asthma, can worsen if left untreated.