Pollution levels across India are soaring and the prevalence of respiratory disease and allergies among children is also increasing. Parents need to take the right precautions regarding their children’s health. While most people associate pollution with breathing and lung ailments, a recently reported study found that more students than average also suffered from irritation of the eyes and hypertension.
While the study, conducted between 2002 and 2010 by Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute (CNCI) and reported in Indianexpress.com, focused on Delhi, many other Indian cities now have high air pollution levels. Unfortunately parents cannot do much about pollution in the air, that will require governmental action. However, parents can monitor their child’s health and watch out for the effects of pollution.
Because children’s immunities are not fully developed, they are more prone to communicable diseases. Further, their lungs too are still growing and have a greater risk of absorbing pollutant particles from the air, leading to lung problems. Kids also engage in more activity, upping their respiration rate and therefore also the amount of pollutants they breathe in.
The study recommended that children go for regular check-ups, to keep track of lung function and blood pressure. As the article said:
Considering the high prevalence of lung function deficits among schoolchildren, all children aged nine and above in Delhi should undergo lung function test at least once a year, and those having lung function deficits should be monitored. The medical facilities at schools should include a separate unit for respiratory health, and every unit should be equipped with a spirometer and trained technicians.
The effect on blood pressure was unexpected and adds to the list of problems caused by pollution. “In view of the high percentages of children with hypertension in Delhi, blood pressure of the children should be checked regularly at the schools, medical facilities or elsewhere at least once in a year. More frequent follow-up should be undertaken for those children with hypertension and/or obesity. Since hypertension affects some organ functions, medical conditions such as enlarged heart and abnormalities in kidney and eye functions should also be checked.”
When it comes to policy and planning, the study recommended that when new schools are built, they should be constructed in areas that are away from sources of heavy pollution, such as roads or factories.