Delhi is bearing the brunt of a heavy blanket of smog and deteriorating air quality that has paved the way for severe respiratory ailments. And that’s not all, the alarming trends include premature births and underweight children, arthritis and increased risk of stroke; according to The Indian Express.
A study at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH) examined 10,565 births between 2007 and 2012 to assess the link between air pollution and birth outcomes in the capital. The study threw up an unexpected and alarming trend: the toxic air that isn’t only adversely affecting the growth of the foetus, but also resulting in premature births. Two years later, in October 2017, a Lancet study echoed what the 2015 study had pointed out: More than half a million Indians are estimated to have died prematurely in 2015 due to particulate matter (PM) 2.5.
“We linked birth outcomes with the historical data of pollution and looked at data related to birth rate and foetal growth. The key findings were that the birth rate had come down when the air quality worsened. This is the same trend that has been seen in industrial countries such as the UK during industrialisation. It also showed that in most cases, poor air quality affected the weight of newborns,” Dr. Neelam Kler, chairperson of the Department of Neonatology, Institute of Child Health, at SGRH was quoted by IE. Dr Kler pointed out that rising pollution levels will further increase the burden with 15 million global premature births every year, and most importantly, 20 percent of the births are in India.
Apart from premature births and foetal problems, the deadly smog has also paved the way for respiratory problems and cardiovascular diseases. A recent survey at AIIMS pointed out that rheumatoid arthritis flares up with an increase in PM levels. The study also revealed that 18% of patients tested positive for auto antibodies, which trigger the autoimmune disease that can result in tissue damage, altered organ growth and altered organ functions as per IE.