Monday, 4 July 2016

Air pollution and sudden infant death syndrome

Air pollution and SIDS 

Two major studies have been stalled 
Taken from Big Issue North, 4 -10 July. Please buy a copy when you see a seller. 
It remains unclear when the findings of two major studies into unexpected deaths in infancy will be published. 
Public Health England (PHE) first promised a study on the impact of municipal waste incinerators (MWI) on infant mortality rates in 2003. Led by a team from the Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU) at Imperial College London, it began in 2011. Preliminary results were envisaged in 2014 but last year PHE announced they were likely to be released in early 2016. 
Regional mortality highs 
The PHE study has examined 22 MWIs, including those in Bolton, Grimsby and Kirklees – districts where infant mortality rates are higher than regional or national averages. 
The Lullaby Trust, which aims to prevent unexpected infant deaths and provides support for bereaved families, funded Birmingham University in 2012 to undertake research on the role of ambient air pollution in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) mortality. Initial findings last year indicated that “ambient air pollutants were associated with increased SIDS mortality”. But the full report remains unpublished. 
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found that mortality rates were highest amongst groups in routine and manual occupations, indicating that deprivation is the main reason behind infant mortality. Other factors cited are poor parenting and cultural practices. 
But the results of both reports will be eagerly studied by Michael Ryan, who first became concerned about air pollution when he lost two of his children, one at 14 weeks, and considered their deaths could be related to having lived downwind of an incinerator. 
Michael Ryan lost two children 
When he examined London wards around MWIs he found that, even in affluent areas such as Chingford Ward Green in Waltham Forest near the Edmonton incinerator, death rates were above average. 
In Bolton five of the top six wards with the highest infant mortality rates border the incinerator in the Great Lever ward. 
Ryan’s research is supported by a major study in Japan in 2004, which found “a decline in risk from distance from MWIs for infant death”. 
Dr Ovnair Sepai from the PHE toxicology department said: “The unanticipated complexity in gathering data has delayed the project but it is expected that papers from the work will be submitted
by SAHSU to peer reviewed journals this year, and it is likely to be a few months after submission for the papers to be published.” 
He stressed that PHE continues to believe that MWIs are not a significant risk to public health. 

A Lullaby Trust spokesperson said: “Our study has been submitted for publication to the Scientific Reports journal. It is being peer reviewed and if it accepted it will be published online at some point this year, when the Lullaby Trust will publish its response.” 

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