Air Pollution Killed Nearly Half A Million Babies Last Year

Cheryl Sanders
October 23, 2020

"The interaction of COVID-19 with the continued global rise in chronic illness and related risk factors, including obesity, high blood sugar, and outdoor air pollution, over the past 30 years has created a ideal storm, fueling COVID-19 deaths", said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, USA, who led the GBD research.

Air pollution contributed to the death of 16.7 lakh people in India in 2019, with over a lakh of them less than a month old, a new global study by a US-based NGO has revealed.

Annual cost of air pollution estimated at EUR 6.3 bln in Bucharest - study

With the observation, the bench disposed of the application which was moved by Sudhir Mishra, an advocate, in his main plea filed in 2015 seeking directions to the Centre to take immediate steps to control increasing air pollution in the national capital. The problem of household air pollution is most widespread in sub-Saharan Africa and in parts of Asia where many households still rely on solid fuels such as charcoal, wood, and animal dung for cooking and heating. The report notes that the global burden of disease from household air pollution has decreased steadily over the past decade, with the total number of deaths attributable to household air pollution falling by a total of 23.8 percent. In Bucharest and Warsaw, for instance, residents are hit by air pollution costs that reach €3,004 and €2,433 a year, respectively, according to the research.

Air pollution ranked fourth among the major mortality risk factors globally in 2019, accounting for almost 6.75 million early deaths and 213 million years of healthy life lost. The Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region has the highest rate of air pollution deaths while Southern Europe has the highest rate of chronic illnesses. "The metropolitan cities are more at risk as the background pollution is very high. The condition gets worse in cities such as Delhi where the PM2.5 levels are extremely high", he said. "The pollution levels have risen here due to stubble burning but before that we used to see clear skies here".

While there is a popular belief that air pollution affects only the lungs, medical professionals consider its overall impact on human health to be far greater. "It also increases body weight and is a major contributor to obesity".

According to the study, when mothers are exposed to high levels of air pollution, it can bring a higher risk of their bearing babies that have a low birth weight or arrive preterm. For the first time, this year's report has looked at the effect of air pollution on the health of newborns and infants off the back of mounting evidence showing the risk of air pollution for babies.

The new analysis estimated what percentage of those deaths came from ambient and household air pollution.

"Preterm birth and low birth weight are among the leading causes of neonatal and infant mortality", said Dr. Ashok Anand, head of the gynecology department at JJ Hospital in Mumbai.

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