Babies should be pushed in high prams rather than low-slung buggies to avoid the worst pollution, a study suggests.
A new analysis has found that toddlers are typically exposed to 60 per cent more toxic particles than their parents when travelling in buggies because doing so puts them closer to the level of exhaust pipes.
Most standard prams or buggies place infants between 55cm and 85cm off ground level, increasing exposure because vehicle exhaust typically sits within one metre off the surface.
However, more old fashioned prams, such as that used last month at Princess Charlotte’s christening, can often raise the occupant above this height.
Babies are particularly vulnerable to pollution exposure because the exhaust particles are proportionally bigger for their lungs and blood vessels compared to adults.
Experts have warned that persistent exposure can potentially damage the brain’s frontal lobe, impacting on cognitive ability and neurological development.
Professor Prashant Kumar, who led the research at Surrey University, said: “We know that infants breathe in higher amounts of airborne particles relative to their lung size and body weight compared to adults.
“What we have proven here is that the height most children travel at while in a pram doubles the likelihood of negative impacts from air pollution when compared to an adult.
“When you also consider how vulnerable they are because of their tissues, immune systems, and brain development at this early stage of their life, it is extremely worrying that they are being exposed to these dangerous levels of pollution.”
Published in the journal Environment International, the study also calls for measures to prevent pollution reaching the pavement, such as roadside hedges.
Dr Stefan Reis, Head of Atmospheric Chemistry and Effects, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology , said: “The paper makes a compelling case for the integrated assessment of both the sources of air pollutant emissions, and local, individual and behavioural factors contributing to exposure in order to design interventions.”