The petitioner, a senior consultant pediatric and neonatal surgeon, is directly concerned with this issue.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court will hear on March 11 a PIL filed by a senior paediatric surgeon seeking a direction to the authorities to take short and long-term measures to address the problem of air pollution and its effect on foetus developing serious disorders.
In his PIL, Dr. Sanjay Kulshrestha said air pollution has become one of the most serious threats to human health globally killing 1.1 million people in India alone. The most recent victim is our innocent human foetus, which is developing serious disorders like birth defects, premature delivery, foetal growth retardation or even foetal deaths.
He said recent reports and researches from various countries on air pollution causing adverse outcome of pregnancy are very alarming.
If we believe these reports, in India 65 lakh babies are born with growth retardation and air pollution is responsible for 10 per cent of all birth defects in India. As per government estimate, 17 lakh babies are delivered every year with birth defects and out of them, 1.7 lakh are due to air pollution.
He said the main objective of this petition is to share the agony of foetuses and newborns that are facing severe threat to their lives which is a violation of their right to live under Article 21 of our Constitution. The petitioner, a senior consultant pediatric and neonatal surgeon, is directly concerned with this issue.
The petitioner would like to share some recent reports and researches from various countries showing how seriously this man-made disaster or air pollution is causing various diseases in foetuses for no fault of them.
Sometimes, due to air pollution there may be a genetic change that may not cause any obvious malformation or birth defects immediately but these babies are more prone to certain diseases like cardiac or metabolic later in life or in adulthood.
Short-term and long-term exposure to particulate air pollution may alter intra-uterine environment or “genetic programming” of subsequent health, causing changes in gene expression that may be linked to later childhood and adulthood diseases.
Advanced researches and studies are going on to study air pollution in relation with adverse outcome of pregnancy in all developed as well as many Asian countries like China. But it is sad to say that no serious efforts have been made in India to study the correlation of pollutants and adverse outcome of pregnancy, causes, gravity of pollution induced health hazards in foetus and newborns and line of actions to prevent and manage it.
Hence, the present petition seeks a direction to various government authorities to initiate a multi-centric research at national level to establish relationship of air pollution with adverse outcome of pregnancy. On the basis of that study, the health authorities should make guidelines for appropriate actions to prevent or minimise such pollution related diseases in foetuses during pregnancy.