Severe air pollution kills over 100,000 infants within month: Report
New Delhi : More than 100,000 infants were reported dead within a month due to exposure to severe air pollution in 2019, according to the State of Global Air 2020 report.
US-based Health Effects Institute and Global Burden of Disease released the first such report analysing the impact of high air pollution on infant health on Wednesday.
According to the report, India has the maximum number of infant deaths due to air pollution in 2019, followed by Nigeria (67,900), Pakistan (56,500), Ethiopia (22,900), and the Democratic Republic of Congo (1,200).
It is based on a growing body of research and evidence that suggests mothers’ exposure to polluted air during pregnancy is linked to increased risks to infants weighing under 2,500 grams at birth or those born before 37 weeks of gestation, as opposed to 38 to 40 weeks. Low weight and premature birth are linked to a higher risk of lower respiratory tract infections, diarrhoea, other serious infections as well as brain damage and blood disorders, jaundice that can be potentially fatal.
“Although the biological reasons for this linkage are not fully known, it is thought that air pollution may affect a pregnant woman, her developing foetus, or both through pathways similar to those of tobacco smoking, which is a well-known risk factor for low birth weight and preterm birth,” the report said.
The impact is not limited to just infant deaths; it can also be driving factor for deadly coronavirus and other infections. Based on experience from the SARS-CoV-1 outbreak between 2002 and 2004, the report said air pollution could lead to both a higher number of Covid-19 infections and deaths.