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Andrew Agbaje contributed to an important scientific statement on environmental risks affecting children’s cardiovascular health

A new Scientific Statement issued by the American Heart Association (AHA) summarises risks posed on children’s cardiovascular health by maternal heat exposure, airborne pollutants, lead exposure and endocrine-disrupting compounds.

Award-winning physician, Docent of Clinical Epidemiology and Child Health Andrew Agbaje of the University of Eastern Finland is one of the co-authors of the Scientific Statement, which was published in Circulation. 

Has industrialisation and rapid technological advancement severely exposed the next generation to grave cardiovascular compromise? Do we still doubt the reality of climate change, global warming, and the consequences of thousands of tonnes of chemicals released into the environment every day? How vulnerable are infants’ and children’s hearts to these environmental exposures? 

“These issues are being addressed in the AHA Scientific Statement,” Agbaje says.

Evidence suggests that climate change increases the incidence of congenital heart defects, particularly conotruncal and septal defects, which is largely explained by maternal heat exposure during pregnancy. Moreover, airborne particulate matter pollution may contribute to an increased incidence of Kawasaki disease and worsen the risk of congenital heart defects. Infants and children exposed to lead (Pb) metal are at risk of high blood pressure and premature kidney disease. Similarly, exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as phthalates, increases the risk of high blood pressure and dyslipidaemia. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are also associated with lipid profile disruption. 

“Decision-makers are to be well-advised on the disastrous links between air pollution, climate change and paediatric heart health. The release of chemicals into children’s environments should be tightly regulated, with special attention paid to new and untested chemicals. We can join hands individually and at societal levels to protect children’s heart health,” Agbaje notes.

The AHA has released a ten-minute video featuring Agbaje and a co-author summarising the AHA statement, see below.

The science news information of the AHA Scientific Statement can be found here.