Traffic Air Pollution Exposure in Infancy Reduces Lung Function in Children

Air pollution from traffic exposed to infants is linked to lung function deficits in children up to eight years of age, especially among children who suffer from common allergies.

According to a new study published in American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, children are highly susceptible to the negative effects of air pollution exposure during infancy and young childhood. The study included more than 1,900 children who were followed from birth through age eight with repeated questionnaires, spirometry and immunoglobulin E measurements.

Outdoor concentrations of particulate matter (PM) from road traffic were estimated for residential, daycare and school addresses using dispersion modeling, a mathematical simulation of how air pollutants disperse in the atmosphere. Exposure to traffic-related air pollution after the first year of life appeared to have less impact on subsequent lung function.

The study had a few limitations. Calculations of particulate matter concentrations were only performed for the year 2004 and were extrapolated to the other years of follow-up, and some miscalculation of individual exposure levels was likely. Please visit www.thoracic.org for more information.

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