Delhi School Kids Have Worse Lungs Than The Kids in Rural Schools

Study says 43.5% of Delhi kids were living with “poor or restrictive lungs” against 22% kids in rural schools.

Updated04 Nov 2019, 11:55 AM IST
3 min read

5,43,000 deaths of children under the age of five.

That was the horrifying cost of pollution (both indoor and outdoor) globally in 2016.

Three years later, things have not changed for the better - in fact, they have gotten worse.

Closer home though, the situation is really bad, with hazardous air in Delhi - which hovers between 500 to 800 these days - continuing to impact children the most.

Delhi Kids Have it Worse Than Rural Kids (When it Comes to Air)

The Yale Global Health Review points to a three-year-study by the Chittranjan National Cancer Institute (CNCI) along with WHO found that the respiratory health of children in Delhi aged between four and seventeen was far worse than that of children in other areas.

The study, which involved conducting tests on 11,628 children from 36 Delhi schools and 15 rural schools in West Bengal and Uttaranchal had these shocking findings:

43.5 % of Delhi school kids were living with “poor or restrictive lungs” as compared to 22% of the kids in rural schools.
  • While 4% of rural children reported frequent eye irritation, 15% of children in Delhi reported it.
  • While 12% rural kids reported frequent headaches, the number is Delhi was 27.4%
  • While 5% rural kids had experienced nausea, 11.2% Delhi kids had experienced it
  • While 3.3% rural kids had reported heart palpitations, 7.2% kids in Delhi had reported it.
  • While 6.7 % rural kids were fatigued, 12.9% kids in Delhi had reported feeling fatigued.
Here’s another shocker: According to the report, roughly 50% of the 4.4 million children of Delhi already have “irreversible lung damage.”

Dr Rahul Chaudhary, a pediatrician at Delhi's Hindu Rao hospital has witnessed first hand how children of all ages - whether they are in the womb, or aged ten, experience the ill effects of air pollution.

Unborn babies or those in the womb of pregnant ladies have more risk of pre-term delivery and IUGR (Intrauterine growth restriction). Once a baby is IUGR, they can get lifetime complications of diabetes, hypertension among others.
Dr. Rahul Chaudhary

Explaining how the effects are witnessed among kids of different ages, Dr Rahul explains:

Once a child is below the age of one, they have more chance of respiratory problems - asthma, pneumonia and bronchiolitis. Older children between 4 -10 years get cognitive impairment along with asthma. Their IQ decreases, and they lack interest in studies.

Here's what Dr. Chaudhary advises parents.

Tips To Protect Your Kid From Air Pollution

  • If we can't afford an air purifier, then we should at least switch on our AC. AC can also reduce some amount of particles in the air.
  • We can also use cooler so that there's humidification of the air. It makes the particles deposit on the ground.
  • We can use wet blankets over doors and windows from where the air mainly comes in and out.
  • For kids already complaining of breathing troubles, we should immediately rush them to a pediatrician.

But even as we hand out the tips, let us remember that even among Delhi kids, the damage is not equal. The poorest of children are among the most vulnerable to the health impacts of the toxic air.

Globally too, for children aged five or less and born in the low and medium income countries of Africa, East Mediterranean, and South East Asia - pollution just hits them harder.

According to WHO, while for Africa, the death rate per 100,000 children attributable to pollution is 184.1, for Eastern Mediterranean regions it is 98.6, and for South East Asian LMIC countries it is 75.

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Published: 04 Nov 2019, 07:55 AM IST
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