Across the globe, almost 17 million babies under the age of 1 live in areas where air pollution is at least six times higher than global limits, causing them to breathe dangerously toxic air, according to a new report from UNICEF.
The report recommends wider use of filter masks in developing countries and for children to not be allowed to travel outside during spikes in pollution. Also the report claimed that in East Asia and the Pacific, there are approximately four point three million babies who are breathing toxic air.
Air pollution has already been linked to asthma, bronchitis, and other long-term respiratory diseases.
Another 4.3 million babies in the East Asia and Pacific region live in areas with pollution levels at least six times higher than the global recommendation.
"Not only do pollutants harm babies' developing lungs - they can permanently damage their developing brains - and, thus, their futures", UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said in a press release.
The report highlighted links found between pollution and brain functions "including verbal and nonverbal IQ and memory, reduced test scores, grade point averages among school children, as well as other neurological behavioural problems".
In China, where air pollution has cut life expectancy in the industrial north by three years, the government has imposed production curbs on industry to counter a smog crisis that rivals India's - but progress has been patchy.
The report said further research was needed to study the full impact of air pollution on children's developing brains.
The author of the "Danger In The Air" report, Nicholas Rees, told AFP that toxic pollution is "impacting children's learning, their memories, linguistic and motor skills". "As yet, we know the minimum - but not the maximum - extent of the harm".
The worldwide limits relating to air pollution are set by the World Health Organization (WHO). Excessive air pollution could put brain development at risk.
The World Health Organization recommends that the level of pollutants in the air not exceed 20 micrograms per cubic meter (.02 parts per million).