Babies in low-riding prams exposed to 60% more air pollution than adults, study finds

Babies in prams could be exposed to 60% more air pollution [Photo: Getty]

Parents will likely want to do everything they can to protect their children, but babies and toddlers in prams can be exposed to up to 60% more pollution than adults, new research has suggested.

Scientists revealed that infants were exposed to dirtier air in prams because they were lower to the ground and therefore nearer to traffic exhaust pipes.

Children being transported by pram our buggy are also more at risk from the health problems associated with pollution because their bodies are still developing.

But there are a couple of things parents can do to reduce their child’s risk of exposure including steering clear of busy roads and using pram covers.

The research, carried out by the University of Surrey, and published in Environment International journal, was based on a review of existing evidence and tested the inside of 160 prams.

Scientists revealed that the breathing height of infants in prams was between 0.55m and 0.85m (2ft) above ground level.

The evidence suggests that because pollution levels are greater within 1m of ground level, infants in prams are being exposed to up to 60% more fine particle air pollution than adults.

Researchers warned that traffic pollution contains high levels of toxic metals, which can affect brain development in infants and impact their cognitive abilities.

Speaking about the findings, Professor Prashant Kumar of the Global Centre for Clean Air Research, and one of the study authors said: “We know that infants breathe in higher amounts of airborne particles relative to their lung size and body weight compared to adults.

“What we have proven here is that the height most children travel at while in a pram doubles the likelihood of negative impacts from air pollution when compared to an adult.

“When you also consider how vulnerable they are because of their tissues, immune systems, and brain development at this early stage of their life, it is extremely worrying that they are being exposed to these dangerous levels of pollution.”

Parents should use a pram cover and avoid pollution hotspots to protect children from risks [Photo: Getty]

Following the research, study authors called for more to be done to reduce air pollution or reduce its effects.

But before then Prof Kumar advised that parents could reduce the risks to young children by using pram covers and avoiding pollution hotspots.

It isn’t the first time this year that the topic of babies and air pollution has hit the headlines.

Earlier this year a study revealed that children exposed to ‘safe’ levels of air pollution during pregnancy are at risk of brain abnormalities, which can impair concentration during their school years.

The study, conducted by scientists in the Netherlands, revealed that even ‘clean’ city air can result in a reduced academic performance during a child’s school years and can also lead to an increased risk of mental health problems in later life.

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