Air pollution warning as living near a busy road raises babies’ risk of death by half, study suggests


BABIES living near busy roads are up to 50 per cent more likely to die before their first birthday, a study suggests.

Toxic fumes pumped out by factories, power plants and dirty diesels increased the risk of dying by 20 to 50 per cent.

Babies living near busy roads are 20 to 50 per cent more likely to die before their first birthday due to toxic fumes from exhausts

Researchers from Cardiff University analysed data on 7,984,366 live births in England and Wales from 2001 to 2012.

They linked these to local annual measures of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulate matter (PM10) and sulphur dioxide (SO2).

Those breathing the cleanest air were least likely to die.

The effect fell slightly after accounting for the likes of birthweight, deprivation, maternal age, sex of the babies and multiple births. NO2 and PM10 are mainly produced by traffic.

And SO2 comes mainly from industry, such as burning fossil fuels for energy generation and metal extraction from ore.

Study leader Dr Sarah Kotecha said: “We found NO2, PM10 and SO2 are each linked in varying degrees to infant deaths from any cause, and to neonatal and post-neonatal deaths.

“This is an important finding as the pollutants are produced and derived from different sources.

“The challenge remains to reduce air pollution in order to reduce the numbers of infant deaths.”

Prof Jørgen Vestbo, of the European Respiratory Society, said the study shows pollution is harmful “from the very beginning of our lives”.

He added: “Breathing is the most basic human function required to sustain life. We cannot give up the fight for the right to breathe clean air.”

The findings will be presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress in Madrid, Spain.

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