Long term exposure to air pollution is linked to impaired breathing in children, according to a new study published by researchers at the European Lung Foundation.
The researchers analysed data from 915 children aged between six and fifteen who lived in Germany.
Each child took part in a test to measure their breathing, recording how much air they could breathe out after taking their deepest breath. When these measurements are lower it suggests that their breathing is restricted and can indicate conditions such as asthma.
The researchers then compared these measures with estimates of the levels of pollution where the children lived in their first year of life, taking into account other factors that are linked to poorer lung function, such as whether the children’s mothers smoked.
They found that the higher the levels of air pollution the babies were exposed to, the worse their lung function was as they grew into children and teenagers.
Dr Qi Zhao from the Research Institute for Environmental Medicine in Düsseldorf, Germany said: ‘Evidence is growing that exposure to air pollution is a threat to children’s respiratory health. However, most studies have looked at the effects of recent exposure to pollution.
‘Babies’ lungs are especially vulnerable because they are growing and developing, so we wanted to see if there are longer-term impacts for babies who are exposed to air pollution as they grow up.”
Thierry Troosters, President of the European Respiratory Society added: ‘These studies are concerning because they suggest the air we breathe is having a detrimental effect on adults and on babies’ developing lungs.
‘We all want to breathe clean air, and parents want to do all they can to help their children grow up to be healthy, but we have limited control over the quality of air where we live.’
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