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Early Childhood Pneumonia Linked to Air Quality

November 19, 2013
Environmental Protection

Scientists at the German Research Centre for Environmental Health in Munich have found that elevated levels of air pollutants are associated with an increased risk of childhood pneumonia before the age of three. The link was found to be particularly strong in the first year of life where every 5 ?g/m3 increase in PM2.5 was associated with a 4 fold increase in the likelihood of a child developing pneumonia. Lead researcher, Joachim Heinrisch, believes the results strengthen the case for better policies to control air pollution, saying; ?This finding could highlight a unique period of susceptibility when children are at increased risk of respiratory infections due to air pollution. Policies aimed at reducing air pollution may be successful in reducing the overall burden of pneumonia in early childhood.?

As well as exposure to pollutants including NO2, NOX and particulates, the scientists found that there was also a direct correlation between the potential for pneumonia to develop and the proximity of major roads. Although it is preventable, pneumonia is the single largest cause of death amongst children worldwide. Each year the condition kills an estimated 1.2million children under five accounting for 18% of all deaths in the age group. Pneumonia can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi and is exacerbated by poor environmental conditions.? ??

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