How haze affects babies: What doctors want you to know

The haze is officially back in Singapore, says the National Environment Agency. Caused by persistent hotspots in Sumatra, Indonesia, the return of the haze leaves parents wondering how the haze affects babies' health.

When the haze arrives, paediatricians usually see an increase in the number of children with viral respiratory infections and asthma exacerbations.

Although the haze doesn't cause viral infections, it does affect babies' health.

It weakens the bodies' natural defences to diseases by damaging the mucous membranes and increasing inflammation, says Dr Natalie Epton, specialist paediatrician and neonatologist at International Paediatric Clinic.

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Haze returns to Singapore: How to protect newborns and pregnant mums
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"Watch for signs of coughing or shortness of breath, especially if your little one has a prior history of breathing troubles. Seek immediate medical attention if she has difficulty breathing, or suffers from severe irritation of the eyes, nose or throat," she adds.

If she already has a pre-existing medical condition such as asthma, your doctor may have already given you a written asthma action plan for you to use in such situations.

Use the plan, but be prepared to seek emergency medical assistance if her condition doesn't improve, Dr Epton advises.


Do take extra precautions with newborns - they're at risk and should stay indoors, says Associate Professor Victor Samuel Rajadurai, senior consultant, Department of Neonatology, KK Women's and Children's Hospital.

You can keep your new baby in an air-conditioned room, but there's no point installing a curtain over the cot. And please do not try to put a mask on your baby, she warns. It's not safe.

Meanwhile, since you're stuck at home with your little one, why not pick up a book with her? 

This article was first published in Young Parents.