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Anaemia risks rise in children with increasing air pollution

Alok Parekh

Increasing air pollution leading to anaemia in children.

As the quality of air deteriorates, so does the health of children as they tend to get infected by anaemia.

According to the latest research paper, a very efficient correlation is found between the increasing outdoor air pollution and the ubiquity of anaemia among children below the age of 5 years. It is said that controlling air pollution under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) in ameliorating child health could go long way.

Research conducted by the Centre for Atmospheric Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi and Harvard University’s TH Chan School of Public Health found that on a district level, as outdoor PM 2.5 exposure increases by 10 micrograms per cubic meter, average anaemia prevalence increases by 1.9% and average haemoglobin level decreased by 0.07 g/dL (grams per decilitre).
According to the same study, at an individual level, as outdoor PM 2.5 exposure increases by 10 micrograms per cubic meter, average haemoglobin level decreases by 0.14g/dL within the children under the age of five years.

What are PM 2.5?

PM 2.5 are inhalable particulate matter with diameters that are generally 2.5 microns, or about 30 times smaller than a strand of human hair.

The research included data from the national family and health survey 2015-16 to scrutinize the association of anaemia with high PM 2.5 levels. For carrying the district-level analysis, exposure was derived based on the five-year average ambient PM2.5 exposure per district whereas for individual level analysis readings were taken based on the year of birth. The coordinator of the Centre of Excellence for Research on Clean Air (CERCA) and associate faculty at the School of Public Policy, IIT Delhi, Sagnik Dey said that their analysis reveals air pollution is also a serious cause for developing anaemia in addition to improper diet and maternal anaemia.
High air pollution levels lead to severe cardiovascular, respiratory, and mortality outcomes. In children, it causes low birth weight and stunted growth.

 

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