Babies dying because of polluted air should be 'a wake-up call' to government, warns Asthma UK

A study by Cardiff University School of Medicine to be presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress has found that babies born in the most polluted areas of Britain had an increased risk of death by up to 50 percent. Responding to this research, Dr Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK said:

“Babies are dying early because of polluted air and it is completely unacceptable.

“This study supports a growing body of evidence showing the devastating impact of air pollution on children’s health, including how it can cause asthma, a life-long serious condition, and trigger life-threatening asthma attacks.

“Research we helped to fund showed that pollution stunts the growth of children’s lungs making them more likely to develop asthma.* We also estimate that more than half a million children in the UK** are affected by air pollution, which can trigger potentially deadly asthma attacks.

“This should be a wake-up call for Government to urgently tackle air pollution and commit to meeting the air-quality limits set by the World Health Organisation. No child should face the risk of getting asthma or having a life-threatening asthma attack because of filthy air.”

Notes to Editor:

* A study, part-funded by Asthma UK and led by Queen Mary’s University, London, Kings College London and University of Edinburgh of 2,000 children found that in London's Low Emission Zones, a smaller lung volume in children was associated with higher annual air pollutant exposures

** From Asthma UK’s report Falling Through The Gaps: Why More People Need Basic Asthma Care, 46.2% of 17 or under said air pollution was a trigger for their asthma (most were answered by a parent on their behalf). To find the estimated number of children with asthma in the UK who said air pollution triggered their asthma, we applied this proportion to the population of children with asthma in the UK (1.1million), to get a figure of 508,200.