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Air pollution is linked to infant deaths and reduced lung function in children

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 27 September 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l5772

Linked opinion

The real cost of carbon is felt in our lungs

  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. London, UK

Three air pollutants—nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter (PM10), and sulfur dioxide—separately and together are associated with an increased risk of infant deaths, according to a study of nearly eight million live births.1

A second study of nearly 14 000 children shows that exposure to air pollution from road traffic as early as the first trimester of pregnancy is associated with small but significant reductions in lung function at eight years.2

Both studies were presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress in Madrid and have not yet been published or peer reviewed.

In the first study, funded by the UK Medical Research Council, researchers analysed data from 7 984 266 live births and deaths that occurred in England and Wales between 2001 and 2012. They divided the country into approximately 35 000 small areas each with a similar population size of 1500 residents. The areas were divided into quintiles according to their annual pollution exposure

The researchers adjusted …

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