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WHO: Pollution Kills 1.7 Million Children Every Year

Update Date: Mar 07, 2017 10:41 AM EST

Last week the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report showing that an estimated 1.7 lives of children under the age of 5 are lost because poor environmental conditions.

According to WHO director-general, Dr. Margaret Chan, today's polluted environment is fatal for young children. Their developing bodies, particularly their immune systems and airways are very vulnerable to the dirty air and water.

CNN reported that this translates to one in every four deaths of children between the ages of 1 to 5 years old. Diseases

The report released Monday last week cited top 5 environmental causes of death among children:

  1. Respiratory problems, like asthma and pneumonia associated with air pollution and secondhand smoke;

  2. Diarrhea because of poor hygiene, sanitation and lack of access to clean water;

  3. Death in the first month of life - the report cited there are 270,000 cases of death among infants due to the lack of proper nursing and health facilities, poor hygiene, lack of access to clean water and pollution;

  4. Malaria - the report suggests that proper intervention like reducing mosquito breeding sites and covering water storage can prevent the death of 200,000 children aged 5 and below; and

  5. Unintentional injuries - these account for 200,000 deaths of young children due to their environment and include incidents like falls, drowning and poisonings.

Dr. Maria Neira director at WHO's Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health said our polluted surroundings take a heavy toll on the health of kids according to ABC News.

Apart from our current problems, growing concerns on the rapid growth of electronic waste is now a concern because it poses a number of threats to children like exposure to toxins that can affect their intelligence and at the same time cause lung damage that can lead to cancer.

Another area of concern is the inevitable effects of climate change. Experts estimate a 44 percent increase in asthma cases among children.

Diseases are preventable with basic interventions vaccines and antibiotics for diseases like pneumonia, clean water for diarrhea and mosquito nets for malaria.

Overall, experts agree that the long term solution is to reduce pollution, improve water resources and sanitation, ensure that pregnant women get adequate medical care and creating an environment, living spaces in particular that are child friendly.

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