Babies' brains damaged by pollution, Unicef says

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NEW DELHI | The united Nations has drawn Wednesday to sound the alarm about the dangers posed by air pollution to the developing brains of babies, a scourge that particularly affects the Asian.

The United Nations report had also stated that it is South Asia which has the largest percentage of babies that are living in areas where the pollution in air is at least around six times higher than the set global limits which happens to be ten micro grams for one cubic metre.

Of these 17 million babies, about 12.2 million live in South Asia while 4.3 million babies live in East Asia and the Pacific.

The report notes that breathing in particulate air pollution can damage brain tissue and undermine cognitive development - with lifelong implications and setbacks.

Air pollution has already been linked to asthma, bronchitis, and other long-term respiratory diseases.

"As more and more of the world urbanises, and without adequate protection and pollution reduction measures, more children will be at risk in the years to come".

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The nano-particles, which easily get into the blood stream, are highly unsafe to the brain due to their magnetic charge and have also been linked to degenerative diseases. Research has also proven that there is a link between prenatal exposures to high levels of air pollution and even delays the development of kids, as well as affect the psychological and behavioural problems later during their childhood, which include symptoms of attention that deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression.

Delhi closed schools in early November after doctors declared a public health emergency, but quickly reopened them - provoking anger from parents who accused authorities of "playing with children's health".

The report comes at a time when Delhi and north Indian states are grappling with severe air pollution crisis.

UNICEF urged more efforts to cut pollution, and also to reduce children's exposure to the poisonous smog which has frequently reached hazardous levels in Indian cities in recent weeks.

Even as the National Capital and adjoining regions are grappling smog and air pollution for over a month now, the issue has been raised at the highest worldwide level as United Nations global Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has taken a serious view of the situation.

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

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