Air pollution killed 476,000 newborns in 2019, especially in India and sub-Saharan Africa, according to a new study which points to the responsibility, in nearly three-quarters of these deaths, of toxic fumes emanating from the fuels used to cook.
More than 116,000 Indian infants have died from air pollution in the first month of life, and 236,000 in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the State of Global Air 2020, which uses data compiled by two American institutes (Health Effects Institute and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation).
According to the study authors, there is growing evidence to link mothers’ exposure to air pollution during pregnancy with the increased risk of babies being born underweight or premature.
“Although there is a slow and steady reduction in the dependence of households on poor quality fuels, the resulting air pollution continues to be a key factor in the deaths of these young children,” he said. esteemed Dan Greenbaum, president of the Health Effects Institute. Newborns in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are particularly concerned, he noted.
In total, air pollution caused 6.7 million deaths worldwide in 2019, according to the study, making it the fourth leading cause of death.
The authors noted that while the Covid-19 pandemic had caused many deaths as well as economic and societal problems, it had also had an impact in terms of pollution: “Many countries have found blue skies and starry nights, often for the first time in years ”, due to the downturn inactivity. But these gains are short-lived, they warned.