smog in the “first thousand days” of life, the “embryo-fetal period” and the “first 2 years”, a time window of maximum vulnerability for exposure to environmental toxins. Among these, numerous researches correlate air pollutants – first of all, the ultrafine Pm2.5 particulate matter – to the risk of the onset of numerous diseases”. Ernesto Burgio, president of the Scientific Committee of the Italian Society of Environmental Medicine (Sima) and member of the European Cancer and Environment Research Institute (Eceri), raised the alarm in a note in which Sima asked Lombardy to open a working table on environmental issues with scientific societies and regional institutions.
“The highest incidence of childhood cancer in Europe and the fact that one in five Italian children have neurodevelopmental disorders (one in 77 has autism) – adds Cristina Panisi, a pediatrician and member of the Sima Scientific Committee – are among the most alarming data in our country. No less alarming is the progressive increase in chronic respiratory pathology from pediatric age. These are epidemiological data that cannot be ignored and require a serious and urgent comparison between the scientific community and the institutions”.
Sima recalls how, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the environment represents “one of the main determinants of the health of the individual”. For the experts “the progressive increase in the prevalence of numerous pathologies – immuno-allergic, endocrine-metabolic, cardiovascular, neuropsychiatric and neoplastic – finds in fact in the action of environmental factors the most plausible explanation. Staying on a watch is expensive and unacceptable. Today, substantial and targeted investment in the prevention and control of these diseases can offer a real opportunity for progress and improvement in global health.
“The Italian pediatrics has taken this alarm on board, dedicating the main scientific events of recent years to the theme of the first thousand days,” observes Burgio. For white coats, “the invitation not to create alarmism cannot de-legitimize the relevance of these issues and hide the fact that in Lombardy, as in the rest of Italy, the problem is not being addressed. The data regarding air pollution in Lombardy in recent days have been a cause for reflection, concern, and comparison for many doctors. The need for consistency and the awareness of very unfavorable environmental conditions for the health of their patients – especially the youngest and ‘on the way’ babies, still in the womb – call for the medical class to take a stand”.
A common front to face the problem
At this point, Sima proposes itself as the spokesperson for these concerns. “And it invites to share the main scientific societies in the medical field – concludes the president of the society, Alessandro Miani – requesting a comparison with the regional institutions, with the start of a working table for serious and wide-ranging projects. The invitation to hope in the rain can be accepted, but, evidently, alone is not enough”.