March 09, 2020

 1) Air pollution in the news as it relates to disorders of attention deficit, asthma, autism, premature infants, low birth weight infants and lower IQ infants. Dr. Shea and colleagues analyzed medical costs related to childhood and maternal exposures to particulate matter of 2.5 micron sizes from air pollution. The authors state, "These estimates range from $23,573 for childhood asthma not persisting into adulthood to $3,109,096 for a case of autism with a concurrent intellectual disability."

(Shea et. al. 2019) The big deal here is that there is reasonable mechanistic evidence that many diseases are linked to air pollution. The tiny particles called PM 2.5 can get into very small lung spaces and enter the blood stream traveling around the body triggering inflammatory events that can lead to immune mediated dysfunction. If they prove to be truly associated with autistic disease development than we have a major problem. The cost and emotional burden of these disorders on families and societies is tremendous. There are still too many variables to prove causation, but as I always state, if it could be and the PM 2.5 doesn't need to be in the air, why is it?
2) On the same thought stream, here is another interesting article for you to read by Tara Haelle entitled "Without action, every child will be affected by climate change" The article states that: ""We have no idea of what that looks like from a public health perspective, but we know it is catastrophic," he continued. "We know that it has the potential to undermine the last 50 years of gains in public health and overwhelm the health systems that we rely on."

Also from the article:
"The potential health risks from climate change range from increased chronic illness, such as asthma and cardiovascular disease, to the increased spread of infectious diseases, especially vector-borne diseases, including dengue fever, malaria, and chikungunya. Increases in the frequency and intensity of severe weather events can lead to increased acute and longer-term morbidity and mortality.

Though children will suffer the brunt of negative health impact from climate change, the effects will touch people at every stage of life, from in utero development through old age, the authors emphasized.
"Downward trends in global yield potential for all major crops tracked since 1960 threaten food production and food security, with infants often the worst affected by the potentially permanent effects of undernutrition," the authors reported. Children are also most susceptible to diarrheal disease and infectious diseases, particularly dengue."

This will be an ongoing analysis over time as the health impacts are documented. It is very clear to me that air pollution and chemicals are driving autoimmunity and asthma to a worsened frequency, morbidity and financial burden. It would make prudent sense to reduce these risks if we had the political will to tackle this topic.
I repeat: Every human that I meet wants clean air, water or food! It is really that simple. If only.....

Dr. M

Shea Environmental Research Article
Haelle MDedge Article