A new study from the United Kingdom has found that walking a baby in a stroller could be hazardous to their long-term health.
Plenty of experts recommend giving a baby some outside air, every day, and the go-to for most moms is a stroller. But a new British study reports that a stroller might not be the best way to get your infant to see the great outdoors.
Professor Prashant Kumar is the director of the Global Centre for Clean Air Research at the University of Surrey, just southwest of London. He recently ran a study that looked at the average height and airflow of strollers in comparison with the height of car exhausts. What he found was quite disturbing.
Most car exhausts are between 1 foot and 3.3 feet off the ground, depending on make and model. Strollers typically carry their precious cargo between 1.8 feet and 2.8 feet off the ground. This means that if you’re walking your baby down a city street–as most mothers do–then you could be exposing them to way more harmful chemicals and particulates than you’d get as a full-grown adult.
Car exhausts aren’t good for anyone, but it turns out that they’re especially concentrated if not given the extra few feet to disperse in the atmosphere. Babies in strollers could be exposed to 60% more toxic fumes and ultra-fine particles than their parents who have nostrils just a few feet higher.
“We know that infants breathe in higher amounts of airborne particles relative to their lung size and body weight compared to adults,” wrote Professor Kumar in the study. “What we have proven here is that the height most children travel at while in a pram increases the likelihood of negative impacts from air pollution when compared to an adult.
“When you also consider how vulnerable they are because of their tissues, immune systems, and brain development at this early stage of their life, it is extremely worrying that they are being exposed to these dangerous levels of pollution.”
While chemicals such as nitrous oxides and carbon monoxide are bad enough, ultra-fine particles can be the real problem for a baby’s long-term health. These particles enter in through the lungs and then get carried by the bloodstream to the brain and lymph nodes where they can be stored for years, leading to all sorts of potential disorders.
On top of that, fumes and particles can cause a whole host of respiratory ailments, such as asthma or allergies.
The study did not analyze specific strollers to determine if some were better for a baby’s airways than others, they only stated generally that stroller heights on busy city streets caused greater exposure for babies than for adults. Professor Kumar concluded that more research is needed on the subject, but that tighter emissions controls would be helpful to limit exposure.