Environmental pollution is a major cause of disease and death. Exposures in early life are especially dangerous. Patterns of exposure vary greatly across countries. In low-income and lower middle income countries (LMICs), infectious, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional diseases are still major contributors to disease burden. By contrast, in upper middle income and high-income countries noncommunicable diseases predominate. To examine patterns of environmental exposure and disease and to relate these patterns to levels of income and development, we obtained publically available data in 12 countries at different levels of development through a global network of World Health Organization Collaborating Centres in Children's Environmental Health. Pollution exposures in early life contribute to both patterns. Chemical and pesticide pollution are increasing, especially in LMICs. Hazardous wastes, including electronic waste, are accumulating. Pollution-related chronic diseases are becoming epidemic. Future Global Burden of Disease estimates must pay increased attention to the short- and long-term consequences of environmental pollution.
- low and middle income countries
- non-communicable disease
- publich health