New Delhi [India], September 1 (ANI): Around 29.3 per cent of children surveyed in Delhi were found to have airflow obstruction or asthma due to air pollution, a survey has claimed.
The study conducted across 12 randomly selected schools in Delhi, Kottayam, and Mysuru to evaluate the lung health status of 3,157 adolescent school children further revealed that air pollution is stunting children's brains, impacting their neurodevelopment and cognitive ability and can trigger asthma, and childhood cancer.
Lung Care Foundation and Pulmocare Research and Education (PURE) Foundation conducted the study with a primary aim to assess the respiratory health of adolescent school children studying in private schools in Delhi and compared them with relatively cleaner cities in terms of particulate matter air pollution, ie Kottayam in Kerala and Mysuru in Karnataka.
The study revealed that around 29.3 per cent of children from Delhi were found to have airflow obstruction/asthma on spirometry as compared to 22.6 per cent of children in Kottayam and Mysuru.
This difference was despite the fact that two factors associated with childhood asthma, namely family history of asthma and smoker in the family, were more prevalent in Kottayam and Mysuru.
"On spirometry, boys were observed to have a two-fold higher prevalence of asthma than girls. In Delhi, 37.2 per cent of boys had airflow obstruction/ asthma as compared to 19.9 per cent of girls," it stated.
Further, it was found that among 29.3 per cent of children observed to have asthma on spirometry in Delhi, only 12 per cent reported having been diagnosed with asthma and only 3 per cent used some form of inhalers. In contrast, among the 22.6 per cent of children observed to have asthma on spirometry in Kottayam and Mysuru, 27 per cent reported to have been diagnosed and 8 per cent were using some form of inhalers.
The study also revealed that in Delhi 52.8 per cent of school children reported sneezing, 44.9 per cent reported itchy watery eyes, 38.4 per cent reported significant cough, 33 per cent reported itchy rash, 31.5 per cent reported shortness of breath, 11.2 per cent reported chest tightness, and 8.75 per cent reported eczema.
However, in Kottayam and Mysuru, 39.3 per cent school children reported sneezing, 28.8 per cent reported itchy watery eyes, 18.9 per cent reported significant cough, 12.1 per cent reported itchy rash, 10.8 per cent reported shortness of breath, 4.7 per cent reported chest tightness, and 1.8 per cent reported eczema.
As per the study: Children who have been exposed to high levels of air pollution may be at greater risk for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease later in life. One reason why children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution is that they breathe more rapidly than adults and so absorb more pollutants.
"Obese/overweight children had a 79 per cent greater chance of having asthma on spirometry across all three sites combined. This association was 38 per cent higher in Delhi children as compared to their counterparts," the study read.
Through this study, it was revealed that a significant number of asthmatic children are not diagnosed to have asthma and a vast majority do not receive the right treatment. The figure of which is higher in Delhi as compared to Kottayam and Mysuru.
Dr Arvind Kumar, Founder Trustee Lung Care Foundation and Chairman of the Institute of Chest Surgery, Medanta, Gurugram said, "This study is an eye-opener. It has shown an unacceptably high prevalence of respiratory and allergic symptoms, spirometry-defined asthma, and obesity in Delhi Children. Air Pollution is the probable link with all three. It is high time that the air pollution issue in Delhi and other cities are settled in a systematic manner to save the future of our children."
Dr Sundeep Salvi, Director, Pulmocare Research and Education (PURE) Foundation, Pune said "This is one of the first studies in India among adolescent school children that have shown a strong association between obesity and asthma, and that air pollution may have a direct link between the two. Breathing polluted air can make children fat and this may increase their risk of developing asthma." (ANI)