New Delhi: 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.
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 and 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.
Emphasising on the importance of clean air, especially for women during preconception period, 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 percent of their time indoor but the indoor air is up to two to five 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 and Bacteria etc. Breathing clean air is important to insure healthy life for the child".
Dr Praveen Gupta , Director Neurology, Fortis Gurgaon, said, "With the current scenario, the situation is getting worse. Air Pollution has adverse effect on children, it causes irritability, suffocation, decreased attention and concentration leading to poor performance. The pollutants through their blood travels to different parts of the body including brain, which causes decrease in IQ level and other related problems."
Dr. Himanshu Garg, Head, Department of Respiratory and critical care, Artemis Hospital, said, "The high pollution levels are now a new reality, at time when the change from hazardous to very severe level is welcomed. New and striking evidence is emerging linking the increasing levels of pollution and increasing birth defects. The high incidence of neural tube in newborns where the spinal cord is not formed well even amongst the well nourished mother's is an example which thought to increasing because of higher pollution levels"
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.