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The first-ever comprehensive analysis of air pollution’s global impact on newborns finds that outdoor and household particulate matter pollution contributed to the deaths of more than 1,16,000 Indian infants in their first month of life in 2019, a new global study on Wednesday.
However, the study found progress in reducing household air pollution exposures but levels stagnant for outdoor PM2.5.
The report, State of Global Air 2020, said more than half of these deaths were associated with outdoor PM2.5 and others were linked to the use of solid fuels such as charcoal, wood, and animal dung for cooking.
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Long-term exposure to outdoor and household air pollution contributed to over 1.67 million annual deaths from stroke, heart attack, diabetes, lung cancer, chronic lung diseases, and neonatal diseases in India in 2019.
For the youngest infants, most deaths were related to complications from low birth weight and preterm birth.
Overall, air pollution is now the largest risk factor for death among all health risks, according to the annual State of Global Air 2020 report published by the Health Effects Institute (HEI).
The HEI is an independent, nonprofit research institute funded jointly by the US Environmental Protection Agency, industry, foundations, and development banks.
The report highlights the ongoing challenge of high outdoor air pollution in South Asian countries.
India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal feature among the top 10 countries with the highest PM2.5 exposures in 2019; all of these countries experienced increases in outdoor PM2.5 levels between 2010 and 2019.
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The use of solid fuels for cooking, however, presents a pattern of moderate success. Since 2010, more than 50 million fewer people have been exposed to household air pollution.
The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana Household LPG program and other schemes have helped to dramatically expand access to clean energy, especially for rural households.
More recently, the National Clean Air Programme has spurred action on major air pollution sources in cities and states around the country.
This report comes as Covid-19, a disease for which people with heart and lung disease are particularly at risk of infection and death, has claimed more than 110,000 lives in India.
Although the full links between air pollution and Covid-19 are not yet known, there is clear evidence linking air pollution and increased heart and lung disease creating a growing concern that exposures to high levels of air pollution, during winter months in South Asian countries and East Asia, could exacerbate the effects of Covid-19.
“An infant’s health is critical to the future of every society, and this newest evidence suggests an especially high risk for infants born in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa,” said HEI President Dan Greenbaum.
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“Although there has been a slow and steady reduction in household reliance on poor-quality fuels, the air pollution from these fuels continues to be a key factor in the deaths of these youngest infants,” he added.
Infants in the first month of life are already at a vulnerable stage. But a growing body of scientific evidence from multiple countries, including recent ICMR-supported studies in India, indicates that particulate air pollution exposure during pregnancy is linked to low birth weight and pre-term birth.
These latter conditions, both of which are associated with serious complications, already account for the vast majority of deaths in the neonatal period (4,55,000 in 2019).
Want to read more in Hindi? Checkout: बिहार में भाजपा ने जारी किया घोषणा पत्र, किए गए कई वादे
The new analysis reported in the State of Global Air this year estimates that nearly 21 percent of neonatal deaths from all causes are attributable to ambient and household air pollution.
“Addressing impacts of air pollution on adverse pregnancy outcomes and newborn health is really important for low- and middle-income countries, not only because of the high prevalence of low birth weight, preterm birth, and child growth deficits but because it allows the design of strategic interventions that can be directed at these vulnerable groups,” said Kalpana Balakrishnan, air pollution and health expert who was not involved with the study.
The State of Global Air 2020 annual report and accompanying interactive website are designed and implemented by the HEI in cooperation with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, and the University of British Columbia.
Its findings are based on the Global Burden of Disease Study published in the international medical journal, The Lancet, on October 15. (IANS)
Mothers, newborns, young children and adolescents are losing 20 per cent of their health and social services due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new report from a panel senior global health experts.
The experts revealed that immunisation campaigns are being halted and health workers are being diverted from maternity to Covid-19 units.
“Covid-19 is making a bad situation worse,” said Joy Phumaphi, co-chair of the Panel and former WHO Assistant Director-General.
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“The new findings show how weak our health systems are at protecting mothers, newborns, young children and adolescents,” Phumaphi added.
The panel has compiled data from various surveys and studies and provided an overview of estimated impacts from Covid-19 pandemic on mothers, newborns, young children and adolescents since its start in January.
The early data found that women are experiencing a loss of various types of support and social safety nets and can’t access increased support, in contrast to men.
According to the experts, since 2000, maternal and children under 5 deaths have been cut by 40 per cent, because of focused leadership and investment, even in the poorest nations.
But due to Covid-19, the health care systems in both rich and poor nations are massively struggling and the services for mothers, newborns, young children and adolescents are crumbling.
“Especially worrisome decline in access to life-saving vaccines for children and maternal health services due to closures and movement restriction,” said Elizabeth Mason, co-chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Independent Accountability Panel (IAP) for Every Woman, Every Child, Every Adolescent reviewing the impact of COVID-19 on these groups.
Besides the loss of services due to the pandemic, IAP has found that globally implementation is 20 per cent behind on the UN’s 2030 goals to reduce preventable deaths for mothers, newborns, young children and adolescents.
The IAP’s 2020 report, published this week, calls for leaders to fulfil their commitments and lays out the action needed to get back on track.
Commitments to universal health coverage, primary health care, International Health Regulations and sustainable development, were urgently needed before the pandemic.
According to global health experts, now with Covid-19, they are even more important. (IANS)
The World Health Organization (WHO) said it is “especially concerned” about the impact of COVID-19 on women, children and adolescents as per COVID-19 Information & Resources.
Speaking at a virtual press conference from Geneva on Friday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the indirect effects of COVID-19 on these groups may be greater than the number of deaths due to the virus itself, Xinhua news agency reported.
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“Because the pandemic has overwhelmed health systems in many places, women may have a heightened risk of dying from complications of pregnancy and childbirth,” he said.
The WHO chief added that WHO has developed guidance for health facilities and community activities on maintaining essential services, including for women, newborns, children and adolescents.
As for the risks of women transmitting COVID-19 to their babies during breastfeeding, Tedros told reporters that based on the available evidence, WHO’s advice is that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of COVID-19.
“Mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be encouraged to initiate and continue breastfeeding and not be separated from their infants, unless the mother is too unwell,” he said.
Saying that early evidence suggests people in their teens and 20s are at greater risk of depression and anxiety, online harassment, physical and sexual violence and unintended pregnancies, Tedros also highlighted the “dramatic impact” of the virus on adolescents, as school and university closures may limit their access to preventive services. (IANS)
Women who are prescribed opioids after childbirth have an increased risk of serious opioid-related events, including overdose and death, in their first year postpartum, say researchers. This is true regardless of whether the woman had a vaginal delivery or a caesarean section, according to the study, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
“This work highlights serious risks associated with opioid prescribing after childbirth, especially among women who receive multiple prescriptions,” said study researcher Sarah Osmundson from Vanderbilt University in the US. “Routine prescribing after vaginal birth is still common, and it is alarming to know that this may put women at risk of long-term problems with opioids for a procedure (vaginal birth) where opioids have dubious benefit,” Osmundson added.
For the findings, the research team followed more than 160,000 pregnant women ages 18-44 who had no history of opioid prescriptions or opioid use disorder within 180 days before their delivery. The findings showed that more than half of the women who delivered vaginally and 91 per cent of women who delivered via C-section filled at least one opioid prescription following childbirth.
More than 10 percent of vaginal births and 24 percent of C-sections also involved filling a second opioid prescription in the postpartum period. According to the researchers, increasing the number of postpartum opioid prescriptions also increased a woman’s risk for experiencing a serious opioid-related event, including opioid-related death, persistent use and a diagnosis of opioid use disorder.
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“While prior studies have looked at persistent opioid use after surgery, including C-sections, little attention has been paid to serious opioid-related events following vaginal childbirth, leaving physicians with limited information about the associated risks,” said study senior researcher Carlos G. Grijalva.
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“Current clinical guidelines do not provide clear recommendations for opioid prescribing after childbirth, so this work can help inform practice,” Grijalva added. (IANS)