Lung blockages, growth retardation and allergies — This is how air pollution is affecting your child’s health
Air pollutionaffects not just the lungs but the skin, eyes, nose, kidney and even the brain in both children and adults, say doctors and experts. Bronchitistends to be much more common in children than adults, doctors say.
- In case of unborn babies, air pollution can even result in
growth retardation– where the foetus doesn’t develop at a normal rate.
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However, small children and infants are more prone to several health problems and long-term conditions. Air pollution not only affects the lungs but also the skin, eyes, nose, kidney and even the brain in both children and adults, say doctors and experts.
“Pollution can affect the upper airways starting from the nose to the lower air passages. It can also act as robust triggers or allergens causing swelling (edema), excessive mucus secretions and partial blockages resulting in narrowing of the airways leading to the lungs,” Dr. Ramalingam Kalyan, director-paediatrics, Max Super Speciality Hospital, told Business Insider India.
Severe cold and cough may cause sleep deprivation which can further exacerbate poor attention span and concentration abilities.
“Air pollution can also cause alarming skin allergies in children who are prone to it. The eyes too can react sharply to these pollutants or allergens with dryness, itching , excessive lacrimation and swelling up of eyes,” Dr Kalyan further added.
Children more prone to bronchitis
According to Dr Kalyan, bronchitis tends to be much more common in children than adults. This is because children's airways are much narrower than that of adults.
Bronchitis is the swelling of bronchial tubes or airways in the lungs that help in transportation of air to and from the lungs. It is mostly caused by bacteria, viruses or particles, which leads to swelling.
Bronchitis cases mostly rise when the pollution level is high in the air.
“Their airways are still figuring out how to keep up with this level of pollutants and allergens in the immediate environment i.e. they are not yet acclimatised, their respiratory accessory muscles are not fully developed. Hence they tend to have limited lung reserves. All this put together makes them much more vulnerable and the consequent symptoms are much more pronounced in children,” Dr Kalyan said.
Other than children, adults who have asthma or other respiratory problems are more prone to bronchitis.
Growth retardation and low birth weight in babies
AdvertisementIn case of unborn babies, air pollution can even result in growth retardation – where the foetus doesn’t develop at a normal rate.
“Air pollution during pregnancy can cause growth retardation. An infant can have recurrent lung infections and an increased asthma predisposition,” Dr. BS Rao, consultant – pulmonology, Fortis Hospital told Business Insider India.
Exposure of expectant mothers to these toxic air pollutants can also lead to premature deliveries.
“It can also lead to low birth weight of an infant, growth retardation, impaired learning, recurrent LRTI (lower respiratory tract infection) and bronchitis,” Dr. Rao further added.
Surprisingly, it can also have a major effect on the brain of a child and make children more irritable.
Advertisement“Long-term effects on the brain make the children hyper-irritable. I think it's neuro-inflammation because of the toxins from the pollutants. In elderly people, it increases the risk of stroke by 10 times,” Dr Arvind Kumar, chairman of Institute of Chest Surgery, Medanta, told news agency ANI.
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