Tuesday , May 18 2021

Effects of air pollution on children's health – from asthma to obesity and diabetes

Health effects of air pollutants in children and young adults

Health effects of air pollution in children and adolescents & nbsp | & nbspPhoto Credit: & nbspThinkstock

New Delhi: Air pollution affects everyone and kills millions of people worldwide every year. However, some groups of people may be more vulnerable to harmful effects or air pollution than others. Perhaps studies suggest that different contaminants may affect these groups differently. It has been found that older people, children, pregnant women and people with existing conditions – such as asthma, lung disease, cardiovascular disease – face greater risk of air pollution. Since the last days, the capital, Delhi and its neighboring areas have fought with high levels of pollution and pass the traffic label.

The World Health Organization recently warned that exposure to toxic air both indoors and outdoors kills approximately 600,000 children under 15 years each year. According to health experts, some individuals, such as people with existing heart disease or lung conditions, may experience increased symptoms, while most children will not be affected by short-term peaks in air pollutants. In this article, let's understand how toxic air can affect the health and well-being of children and young adults. Read – Delhi air pollution: How particles (PM) and pollutants affect your health


According to Asthma UK, young adults and children with underlying chronic health conditions, such as asthma, are more likely to suffer from air pollution, as they have faster breathing rates and their lungs still develop. Children living in areas with high levels of contamination face an increased risk of reduced lung function as adults. Long-term exposure to high levels of air pollution can also cause asthma in children.

lung development

Air pollution limits lung development in children. It has been found that children aged 8-10 years who live in highly contaminated areas have up to 10% less lung capacity than normal. Researchers suggested that this reduced lung growth or lung function can never return to full capacity. Read – Delhi Air Pollution: Five Best Indoor Plants That Clean air in your home

Obesity and diabetes

There is evidence that exposure to air pollution in the air can contribute to the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Researchers found that children in the ages of 8 to 15 who were exposed to higher air pollution had lower insulin sensitivity. These children were also found to have a decrease in beta cell function and a higher body mass index (BMI) at the age of 18 years. Children whose lungs are still growing and developing are at particular risk of air pollution due to several reasons – their immune system and the metabolic system are still developing, they suffer from frequent respiratory infections, etc.


A recently published study, published in the magazine Environmental International, warned that air pollution increases the child's risk of developing autism spectrum disorders by up to 78 percent. While the causes of autism are complex and not fully understood, researchers note that environmental factors are increasingly recognized beyond genetic and other factors. "The development of young children is more vulnerable to toxic exposure in the environment, and several studies have suggested that this may affect the function and immune system of the brain," said Zhiling Guo from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Research has shown that exposure to air pollution during pregnancy can damage brain development and contribute to behavioral and cognitive problems later in childhood.

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