Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Missouri's Children Need a Chance to Breathe Easier

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Missouri's Children Need a Chance to Breathe Easier

Article excerpt

Children are not simply little adults. They have unique needs; any parent can attest to that. As a pediatrician in Missouri, I see young children every day and the effects of slight changes in their routine on their daily function and health. Sometimes, something as simple as missing a nap can make the afternoon a challenge for a toddler, or even having dinner later than usual can send a school- aged child out of sorts.

The same is true with changes in their environment, including increasing air pollution, although the health consequences are more severe and can follow them throughout their lives. According to new data, several counties in our state are receiving a grade of C or poorer when it comes to the "state of our air." We can and must strive for an A+ when it means ensuring the air our children breathe is safe and clean.

Due to their developing bodies and minds, children are uniquely vulnerable to changes in their environment. They breathe at more than twice the rate of adults, and their growing lungs are sensitive to air pollutants, including smog and ozone. In particular, children with asthma, chronic lung disease, or underlying medical problems are especially vulnerable to these environmental irritants. As parents, we work to protect our children by making sure they are getting proper sleep and nutrition, and ensuring they are doing well in school, but unfortunately, short of putting our children in a bubble, we cannot control the air quality around them.

When the air quality in Missouri is poor, children come into my clinic suffering. On bad air days, some of my patients cannot play outside, or else they will end up in the hospital. I have a family who does everything they can to keep their boys healthy and control their asthma, but during times of poor air quality, at least one of their boys ends up in the ER or hospital needing extensive treatments to simply help them breathe comfortably. …

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