Explained | Five steps to protect your newborns from air pollution

Dr. Naveen Parkash Gupta: Over the past few days, pollution in the Delhi NCR region has risen due to various factors. First, the air quality index has been bad. Higher air pollution levels have caused increased cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses in adults. Air pollution is also associated with adverse health effects in children, including infant brain development, lung development and function (including asthma).

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has estimated that approximately 300 million children live in regions where air pollution exceeds standards by at least sixfold. It is the major contributor to the deaths of 600,000 children under five annually. Improved air quality can benefit the health of all children, not only those with lung disease.

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Parents often wonder about the precautions they need to take for their newborns. Here are a few tips parents should follow to prevent their newborn.

  • Protection begins from home itself. So the siblings or parents who go out need to take care of themselves. They can wear a mask in public places. After returning home, they should wash their hands before coming in contact with the newborn.
  • Don’t take newborns out routinely. Both mothers and newly born babies should restrict themselves to indoor activities as much as they can.
  • If the mother or father gets cold and coughs in this bad weather, they should wear a mask while coming in contact with the child. Mothers should wear a mask while breastfeeding. As parents, you should consult your physician and address your cold and cough fast.
  • You can use air purifiers. There is no proven efficacy of air purifiers. So if it seems affordable to you, you can use it. It doesn’t have any adverse effects.
  • Despite all these precautions, if your newborn gets a cold and cough, take him to his paediatrician and start appropriate treatment soon.

Dr. Naveen Parkash Gupta is a Senior Consultant Neonatology at Madhukar Rainbow Children’s Hospital, in New Delhi.

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