Air pollution can increase risk of birth defects, says study

Air pollution

·      A latest study found that women exposed to air pollution just prior to conception can have increased risk of their children being born with birth defects.

·      Most susceptible time is analysed to be one month before and after conception

·      Experts advice to take precautionary measures to avoid polluted air during this time

New Delhi, December 27, 2017: A shocking new study revealed the significant association between air pollution and birth defects. The 2017 study published in Journal of Pediatrics found that women exposed to air pollution during preconception period or one month after the conception have increased risk of their children being born with birth defects like cleft lip or palate or abnormal hearts.

The birth certificate data was used from the Ohio Department of Health and particulate matter data from the US Environmental Protection Agency’s 57 monitoring stations throughout Ohio to study the impact of air pollutants on children’s development. Researchers calculated the average exposures by linking the geographic coordinates of the mother’s residence for each birth with the nearest monitoring station. The result came after studying the association between abnormalities at birth and the mother’s exposure to increased levels of fine particulate matter in the air during pregnancy.

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Dangerous of air pollution seems to be growing on each passing day but not much progress have been made to curb its deadly spread, concerns that have been raised by many experts, environmentalists, public & private sectors and NGOs.  Measures to curb air pollution needs to be one of the high priorities in national agenda since improving air quality (both indoor and outdoor) has potential to provide healthier future for children.

Dr. S.P.Byotra, HOD, Dept. Of Internal Medicine, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi. Said .In urban settings, it is poor ventilation, dust, mites, pollens and other trapped irritants that make the air quality extremely unhealthy for breathing. Children, pregnant women, elderly and people with respiratory condition suffer most due to it. The good air quality inside can be maintained to certain extent by proper ventilation, planting indoor plants, using air purifiers and other dust control methods,.

Emphasising on the importance of clean air, especially for women during preconception period, Mr. Arvind Chabra, India Head, Blueair, said“Improving the air quality in our surroundings can be most effective way of avoiding harmful effects of breathing polluted air.  Considering the fact that the mother spends 90% of their  time indoor but the indoor air is up to 2 to 5 times more polluted than the outside air. An effective air purifier helps in eliminating the minutest of  the air pollutants like fine dust, allergens VOCs &Bacteria etc .Breathing clean air is important to insure healthy life for the child””.

Though, there has been increasing sense of awareness in people regarding its harmful effects and they are also on lookout for measures to improve the air quality in their vicinity. In fact, sale of air purifiers, masks and indoor plants have increased in recent times which indicates that people are taking the situation seriously.

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