India tops list of countries with babies at risk from pollution: UN

India tops list of countries with babies at risk from pollution: UN

In India, as New Delhi and other major cities hit new toxic smog peaks, the United Nations sounded the alarm Wednesday over the damage that pollution is doing to babies' developing brains.

The UN's children's agency, UNICEF, said India topped the list of countries with babies at risk.

Air pollution has already been linked to asthma, bronchitis, and other long-term respiratory diseases, UNICEF said in a report.

"But a growing body of scientific research points to a potential new risk that air pollution poses to children’s lives and futures: its impact on their developing brains," UNICEF said.

The report highlighted links found between pollution and brain functions "including verbal and nonverbal IQ and memory, reduced test scores, grade point averages among school children, as well as other neurological behavioural problems."

The author of the "Danger In The Air" report, Nicholas Rees, told AFP that toxic pollution is "impacting children's learning, their memories, linguistic and motor skills."

Delhi closed schools in early November after doctors declared a public health emergency, but quickly reopened them--provoking anger from parents who accused authorities of "playing with children's health".

UNICEF urged more efforts to cut pollution, and also to reduce children's exposure to the poisonous smog which has frequently reached hazardous levels in Indian cities in recent weeks.