The first-ever comprehensive analysis of air pollution’s global impact on infants has found that outdoor and household particulate matter pollution contributed to the deaths of more than 116,000 infants in India in their first month of life in 2019.
The State of Global Air 2020 report found progress in reducing household air pollution exposures but levels stagnant for outdoor PM2.5.
The report published by the US-based think-tank, Health Effects Institute claimed that, India had the highest burden of infant deaths due to air pollution followed by Nigeria (67,900), Pakistan (56,500), Ethiopia (22,900), and the Democratic Republic of Congo (1,200).
“Although the biological reasons for this linkage are not fully known, it is thought that air pollution may affect a pregnant woman, her developing foetus, or both through pathways similar to those of tobacco smoking, which is a well-known risk factor for low birth weight and preterm birth,” the report said.
For the youngest infants, most deaths were related to complications from low birth weight and premature birth ---- direct outcomes of mothers' exposure to air pollution during pregnancy, found the study.
Overall, air pollution is now the largest risk factor for death among all health risks, according to the annual State of Global Air 2020 report published by the Health Effects Institute (HEI).