17 million babies breathing toxic air worldwide

The findings come at a time when India, particularly in the north, is facing a serious crisis due to rising levels of pollution.

Seventeen million babies under the age of one are breathing toxic air, putting their brain development at risk, the United Nations children's agency has warned. Excessive air pollution could put brain development at risk. With 136 million children under the age of one globally, that equates to about one in eight worldwide.

"Not only do pollutants harm babies' developing lungs - they can permanently damage their developing brains - and, thus, their futures", UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said in a press release.

The links of pollution with asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory diseases in the long course are known for a long time.

The UNICEF report notes that breathing in particular air pollution can damage brain tissue and undermine cognitive development which he said can set children back and have a lasting effect on their progress in life. Another 4.3 million babies in the East Asia and Pacific region live in areas with pollution levels at least six times higher than the global recommendation.

The pollution " will impact the learning of the children, their memories, their language skills and motor", said to AFP Nicholas Rees, author of the report. "But this growing body of research does provide an indication of the scale of harm", said the UNICEF. Contamination above that limit could prove potentially harmful for children, with risks growing as exposure does.

The report mentions that toxic air can also lead to anxiety disorder and may affect IQ level and memory pattern in kids.

For their part, parents can reduce children's exposure in the home to harmful fumes produced by tobacco products, cook stoves and heating fires.

According to the American Lung Association's "State of the Air" report for 2017, almost 40 percent of the United States' population still lives in counties that have unhealthful levels of air pollution.

"A lot of focus goes on making sure children have good quality education, but also important is the development of the brain itself", he added. "A mask that does not fit the face well won't work".

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