Living within 50m of a major road could increase the risk of lung cancer by up to 10%, the paper also found.
The study of 13 cities in the UK and Poland found air pollution contributes to a higher chance of heart disease, strokes, heart failure and bronchitis.
Campaigners called on the government to commit to tackling “dangerous” air pollution in the UK.
The report written by King’s College London analysed 13 health conditions in people living in high pollution areas and compared them to the general population.
It focused not just on hospital admissions and deaths but also symptoms such as chest infections.
The study found roadside air pollution stunted lung growth in children by approximately 14% in Oxford, 13% in London, 8% in Birmingham, 5% in Liverpool, 3% in Nottingham and 4% in Southampton.
Researchers also said if air pollution was cut by a fifth, there would be thousands fewer cases of children with symptoms of bronchitis across those UK cities.
Public health crisis
The group behind the study – a coalition of 15 health and environment NGOs, including the British Lung Foundation – is calling for a national network of Clean Air Zones across the UK.
Toxic air pollution in central London has reportedly fallen by a third since the introduction of a new traffic charging zone.
Levels of nitrogen dioxide in the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) dropped by 30% in the first six months of the scheme, according to City Hall.