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Study makes groundbreaking observation on children's health after living in low-emission zone: 'We compare children born before and after the introduction of the driving ban'

"There will likely be heated debates on this kind of interventions."

"There will likely be heated debates on this kind of interventions."

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There is now more evidence that reducing emissions is critical for our health — and that its reduction is felt as early as the womb. 

A Berlin-based climate research institute has determined that spending time in a low-emission zone from being in the womb and through the first year of life results in a 13% reduction in asthma medication prescriptions by the fifth birthday. 

According to Medical Xpress, more than 200 European cities have set up low-emission zones by banning cars with exhaust emissions above a particular level. 

Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change's research looked at Germany specifically and relied on official air quality measurements and anonymized patient data from the largest health insurance provider, which encapsulates about a third of the population. The focal point of the research was on medical prescriptions for half a million newborns residing in urban environments between 2006 — two years prior to the start of Germany's first low-emission zone — and 2017. 

"We compare children born before and after the introduction of the driving ban with a control group of children from cities that introduced a low-emission zone at a later date, but are similar in terms of weather conditions and socioeconomic composition," said lead author Hannah Klauber, per Medical Xpress

According to MedicalXpress, the evaluation of medical prescriptions determined that low-emission zones result in significant cost reductions in the health system over five years. Of these costs, 92% come from asthma medications; the number of asthma prescriptions was reduced by 13% and that saved up to 21% because of their largely high-value preparations. Big picture: low-emission zones reduced medication costs for children by about 30 million euros until 2017. 

In similar news, research has determined that long-term exposure to air pollution increases the risk of dementia and the number of heart disease-related deaths as well as worsening mental health

Study co-author Nicolas Koch said their particular research makes room for examining the benefits of certain policies. 

"This is generally relevant for the evaluation of environmental and climate policies — and not least with regard to wider driving bans," said Koch, per MedicalXpress. "There will likely be heated debates on this kind of interventions, and thus a need to quantify health effects properly."

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