Children exposed to air pollution are at risk of poor lung development, and the symptoms can get worse for children who have allergies or asthma, says a new study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The study included nearly 2,000 children who were studied from birth until the age of eight. Researchers had monitored their growth and the levels of pollution they were being exposed to while growing. They found that higher level of pollution was associated with reduced ability in the children to expel air from the lungs in eight-year olds.

"In our prospective birth cohort study in a large population of Swedish children, exposure to traffic-related air pollution during infancy was associated with decreases in lung function at age eight, with stronger effects indicated in boys, children with asthma and particularly in children sensitized to allergens," said Göran Pershagen, MD, professor at the Karolinska Institutet Institute of Environmental Medicine in Stockholm, and one of the study researchers.

Medical Daily had earlier reported that air pollution can raise the risk of preeclampsia in pregnant women - a condition where the would-be mother has high blood pressure and higher levels of proteins in the urine. Another study showed that exposure to exhaust fumes can lead to attention and behavior-related problems in pre-teen kids.

Researchers involved in the present study say that children who are exposed to pollution after the first year of life have comparatively less damage to the lungs than children who were exposed to pollution during the first year.

"Our study shows that early exposure to traffic-related air pollution has long-term adverse effects on respiratory health in children, particularly among atopic children. These results add to a large body of evidence demonstrating the detrimental effects of air pollution on human health," said Dr. Pershagen.