Air Pollution and your Baby

Getting out for some fresh air may be one of your baby’s favorite activities. The sights and sounds of your neighborhood, parks, your city or wherever else you spend time outdoors can be good for the heart and soul. Spending some time outdoors is excellent for your baby but watch out for the negative effects of air pollution. Today we’re examining air pollution and your baby to help keep your little one safe while still enjoying the great outdoors.

Air Pollution and your BabyAir pollution comes from a variety of sources including vehicle exhaust, factories, power plants, mines, dry cleaners and construction sites. The release of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, black carbons and particulate matter can be dangerous to any human body but the consequences are even more severe for babies whose organs continue to develop throughout infancy. Exposure to air pollution starting during the prenatal period throughout childhood can have serious health side-effects.

Studies have shown the negative effects of air pollution for respiration and the cardiovascular system. Air pollution is now linked to developmental delays in the brain as well including less cognitive potential and behavioral disorders. Additionally, air pollution can cause a burning sensation in the eyes, coughing and temporary tightness in the chest. Air pollution is particularly bad for children with airway blockages or asthma.

While fresh air and outdoor exercise are good for babies and children, you should take some precautions before heading out:

  • Check the daily status of the air quality in your area before spending too much time outdoors. If there is a warning or advisory about the air quality, limit time outside.
  • When air quality is poor, spend a short amount of time outside in the mornings or evenings when air pollution is less harsh.
  • Children who are exercising or rigorously playing outdoors will be breathing deeply and are more exposed to toxic particulates. Have your child take breaks to catch their breath during high respiratory outdoor play.
  • Days when the air is still and warm are worst for air pollution and your baby.
  • Avoid highly toxic areas near power plants, factories and dry cleaners.
  • Cities are not the only places with air pollution; rural areas can have air pollution too. Everyone should take caution.
  • Keep tabs on good indoor play spaces that will give your baby and older children time for physical activity without the dangers of air pollution. Strolling in the mall or visiting a baby gym are great for little ones, and indoor playgrounds or gyms are fun for older kids.
  • Play your part in reducing your family’s carbon footprint by using energy efficient products, buying less packaged goods and recycling.

When considering air pollution and your baby keep these tips in mind so your little love stays safe and healthy!

Sources: US News and World Report, LA Times and the March of Dimes