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Toxic air endangers 17 million babies’ brains and lungs: UNICEF

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Around 17 million babies around the world live in areas where outdoor air pollution is six times the recommended limit, and their brain development is at risk, the agency said on Wednesday. the children of the United States.

Most of these babies, more than 12 million, are found in South Asia, he said, in a study of children under one year old, using satellite images to identify the most affected regions.

"Contaminants not only harm the developing lungs of babies, but they can also permanently damage their developing brains and, therefore, their future," said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.

Any air pollution above the limit recommended by the World Health Organization is potentially harmful to children, and the risks increase as pollution worsens, UNICEF said.

Air pollution is closely related to asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis and other respiratory infections, he said.

The scientific findings about the links to brain development are still inconclusive, but the evidence of rapid growth is "definitely cause for concern," said Nicholas Rees, author of the report, to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Brain development in the first 1,000 days of a child's life is critical for their learning, growth and for them "to be able to do everything they want and aspire to in life," he said.

"It focuses a lot on ensuring that children have a good quality education, but the development of the brain itself is also important," he added.

Report by Alex Whiting @Alexwhi; Katy Migiro edition. Please give credit to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the Thomson Reuters charitable arm, which covers humanitarian news, climate change, resilience, women's rights, trafficking and property rights. Visit news.trust.org/climate

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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