Reducing pollution could prevent more 44,000 cases of childhood asthma in the UK, a study has found.
A major new analysis suggests that up to a third of new cases of childhood asthma in Europe are being caused by air pollution.
Around 1.1 million children are believed to suffer from asthma in the UK.
It is thought that pollution from traffic can damage airways, leading to inflammation and the development of asthma in children who are genetically predisposed to the condition.
The study, led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), looked at the burden of asthma on 63,442,419 children across 18 European countries, including the UK, in 2016.
They compared asthma incidence rates with estimations of levels of exposure to pollutants in more than 1.5 million square km areas in 2010, which are often traffic-related in urban areas.
Finally, they estimated how rates could be affected if levels were reduced in two different scenarios.
They found that 11.4 per cent of the total cases of asthma – 66,567 – could be prevented each year if countries adhered to the maximum air pollution levels recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the tiny particles known as PM2.5.
This alone equates to more than 10,000 cases in the UK being prevented annually.
The researchers said they believe these guidelines are outdated and need to be lowered.
If countries went further, tens of thousands more cases of childhood asthma could be avoided, the researchers predict.
Read more: The Telegraph