High air pollution at birth is linked to asthma and eczema in adolescence

Higher levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) at birth leads to higher chances of developing eczema and asthma in adolescence, according to a study published in the European Respiratory Journal.

There is growing evidence that air pollution may contribute to a host of diseases in children and the authors of this study set out to investigate how air pollution at the time of birth is linked to allergy-based diseases.

1,286 participants were involved in the study, they were followed up from birth for the next seventeen years. 

Concentrations of NO2 levels were assigned to each participant based on the time and place of birth. 

Of the children involved in the study, 28.5% had asthma, and 74.5% had eczema.

The researchers found that there was a 17% increase in the risk of developing asthma and an 8% increase in the risk of developing eczema for individuals who were exposed to higher levels of NO2 at the time of birth. 

The results of this study indicate that exposure to air pollution at birth has subsequent health implications throughout childhood.

This is particularly significant because according to the British Lung Foundation more than 2,000 health centres and hospitals in the U.K are located in areas where air pollution levels are way above the recommended World Health Organisation limit.

The researchers have concluded that improving air quality and providing advice on reducing air pollution exposure may contribute to the prevention of asthma and other allergic diseases from developing in adolescence. 

AirQualityNews has reported on various studies linking high levels of air pollution to diseases amongst children, for example in October, researchers found a link between exposure to air pollution and disorders such as ADHD and autism in children. 

Research has also shown that a mother’s exposure to particulate matter during pregnancy is associated with reduced cardiac response to stress in 6-month-old infants. 

By studying the baby’s heart rate and respiration at aged 6 months, the researchers found that the higher the level of the mother’s exposure to air pollution during the pregnancy, the decreased heart rate variability when the baby was responding to a stressful situation.

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