A mums group wants diesel vehicles banned from London streets after more than 400 children were admitted to one hospital with breathing problems last year.

A Freedom of Information request sent to the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust revealed that in 2023, 436 children under five were treated at Barnet Hospital for respiratory problems.

Overall, more than 15,000 children across 22 London hospitals were admitted with serious breathing difficulties last year.

These figures were obtained by air pollution campaigners and mothers group Mums for Lungs, who have urged faster action to remove diesel vehicles by at least 2030, with some limited exceptions.

Barnet and Haringey parents have shown their support for the cause by hanging baby grows spelling out ‘Clean Air Now’ near areas with high levels of pollution.

Across England, 15,328 children under 19 were admitted to hospital for severe asthma attacks in 2022/23, according to figures from Public Health England.

In London alone, 2,705 children were admitted to hospital for the same reason.

Sara Hall, a parent who lives in Barnet, said: "I am very worried about the number of children being hospitalised with breathing issues here in Barnet.

"Children are growing up with stunted lungs, not just in Barnet but all across the country.

"Air pollution is known to permanently damage our health, even before we’re born.

"We must see more action to reduce pollution from cars and wood burning - our children deserve better.”

Barnet's air pollution monitors consistently show dangerous levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM 2.5).

Exposure to such substances can result in serious health issues, especially in vulnerable groups including the young and elderly.

The monitor in Barnet – at Tally Ho in North Finchley - measures NO2 levels at nearly triple the World Health Organization guidelines.

Dr Anna Moore, a respiratory doctor who works at a London-based NHS Hospital, said: "All the evidence shows that there is a clear connection between high levels of air pollution and respiratory conditions.

"These figures also demonstrate that there are hundreds of children who are in hospital with conditions that could be prevented.

"At a time when NHS resources are stretched thin, we need to urgently clean up our air, including completely phasing out the most heavily polluting diesel cars, trucks, and vans."

Jemima Hartshorn from Mums for Lungs added: "Thousands of children are unable to breathe because of preventable air pollution, this must change.

"The next national Government, Mayors, and local authorities must all use their powers to phase out diesel vehicles and protect children from painful and debilitating health conditions."

Road transport is a major factor in London's air pollution problem, which reportedly contributes to around 4,000 early deaths each year in the capital.

Mums for Lungs has called on the main political party leaders Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer to discourage people from buying diesel vehicles and to set a target for a diesel-free England by 2030.