Scientists from the University of Southern California found that children who were exposed to high levels of nitrogen dioxide emitted by diesel engines in their first year of life gained weight during childhood and had a higher body mass index (BMI) at the age of 10 years.
They said the findings had "a significant public interest in interfering with the large number of children living near the roads.
Research, published in Environmental Health, followed 2318 children in Southern California. The height and weight of children were measured annually over a four-year period and their lifelong exposure to near-air pollution on the road was estimated, even in the child's life or during the first year of life.
Based on previous research, in which traffic pollution was identified as "the major risk factor for obesity development in children aged 10-18 years.
Scientists from the latest study concluded that because they are important developmental periods in the uterus and in the first year of life that affect growth, increased exposure to close air pollution in these "critical periods" can contribute to the future risk of obesity by changing growth, leading to faster growth of BMI in childhood.
The publication of the research is the result of the launch of the National Clean Air for Children program last month, which calls for £ 153m in funding to protect children and children from the harmful effects of pollution.
- The study is available here