17 million babies breathing toxic air worldwide

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"But a growing body of scientific research shows a new potential risk posed by air pollution to the lives and futures of children: its impact on their developing brains ", now says Unicef.

Brain development in the first 1,000 days of a child's life is critical for their learning, growth and for them "being able to do everything that they want and aspire to in life", he said. A further four million are at risk in East Asia and the Pacific.

Satellite imagery analyzed by UNICEF indicates that 12.2 million of the children exposed to severe air pollution live in South Asia.

The report sets out a range of ways that the impact of air pollution on babies' brains could be lowered.

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It has made many ground breaking revelations that state that particulate matters can also cause neurological inflammation and also damage the barrier between brain and blood which is a thin and delicate memberane which helps in protection of brain from the toxicity of environment.

· Some pollution particles, such as ultrafine magnetite, can enter the body through the olfactory nerve and the gut, and, due to their magnetic charge, create oxidative stress - which is known to cause neurodegenerative diseases.

· A young child's brain is especially vulnerable because it can be damaged by a smaller dosage of toxic chemicals, compared to an adult's brain.

Air pollution potentially affects children's brains through several mechanisms.

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California was found to have the most polluted air in the country, with Los Angeles ranking highest for ozone pollution and Visalia the top city for year-round particle pollution.

· Reduce air pollution by investing in cleaner, renewable sources of energy to replace fossil fuel combustion; provide affordable access to public transport; increase green spaces in urban areas; and provide better waste management options to prevent open burning of harmful chemicals.

Improve children's overall health to improve their resilience, including the prevention and treatment of pneumonia, as well as the promotion of breastfeeding and good nutrition. Last month, schools in Delhi had to be shut temporarily to reduce children's exposure to pollutants that had enveloped that national capital.

Even as the National Capital and adjoining regions are grappling smog and air pollution for over a month now, the issue has been raised at the highest global level as United Nations worldwide Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has taken a serious view of the situation.

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