LIFESTYLE

A study in the European Respiratory Journal of
more than 65,000 children is one of the
largest to look at the link between air pollution
and asthma.
Children were tracked until the age of 10 and
cases of doctor-diagnosed asthma were noted.
Mothers’ postcodes were analysed and their
exposure to air pollutants was determined by
several factors, including the presence of
major roads and monitored levels of pollution.
The measurements focused mainly on traffic-
related pollutants, including black carbon, fine
particulate matter, nitrogen oxide and nitric
oxide.
The researchers suggested that exposure to
traffic pollution during pregnancy increased
the risk of developing asthma during the first
five years of life, even in urban areas with
relatively low levels of pollution.
Children whose mothers lived close to
highways during pregnancy had one of the
highest risks, and premature babies were
among those at highest risk.
Children whose mothers lived close to
highways during pregnancy had one of the
highest risks, and premature babies were
among those at highest risk.
Lead author, Dr Hind Sbihi, from the
University of British Columbia in Vancouver,
said: “Our study results highlight the
importance of exposure to pollution while
babies are still in the womb.
“Air pollution from traffic sources increased
the risk of developing asthma during early
years before children reach school age, even in
an urban area with relatively low levels of air
pollution.
“There are some measures individuals can take
to reduce this risk. First we would suggest
installing high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA)
filters in the home and avoiding busy routes
when taking a stroll. You can also check air
quality levels online and postpone high-
intensity physical activity until conditions
improve.”
Chair of the European Lung Foundation, Dan
Smyth, added: “Air pollution affects 100% of
the population and this study highlights the
harmful effects of air pollution right from the
moment we are created.
“A large proportion of Europe’s population live
in areas with unhealthy outdoor air and it is
essential that we increase awareness of the
dangers of polluted air.”

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