WHO warns of children’s vulnerability to pollution [Archives:2007/1072/Health]

July 30 2007

Amel Al-Ariqi
With over 30 percent of the global burden of disease in children attributable to environmental factors, the world health organization released last week the first ever report highlighting youngsters' special susceptibility to harmful chemical exposures at different periods of their growth, and the potential effects later in life.

According to (WHO), the stage in a child's development when chemical exposure occurs may be just as important as the magnitude of the exposure.

The report estimates that Four million children under the age of five die every year due to environmental hazards including polluted air or water, or exposure to chemicals.

Poisonings, acute respiratory infections, diarrhoeal diseases and malaria carried by mosquitoes which thrive in dirty water account for most of the toll, the United Nations agency said in a technical report.

The report pointed out to the e merging evidence suggests that an increased risk of cancer and heart disease in adults can result in part from exposures to certain environmental chemicals during childhood. .

However, Children have different susceptibilities during different life stages, due to their dynamic growth and developmental processes. Some examples of health effects resulting from developmental exposures prenatally and at birth include miscarriage, still birth, low birth weight and birth defects; in young children, infant mortality, asthma, neurobehavioural and immune impairment; and in adolescents, precocious or delayed puberty, the health agency said in the report drawn up by 24 scientific experts.

“For example if you look at lead exposure