Children’s exposure to pollution is associated with hyperactivity
Children’s exposure to air pollution related to traffic is significantly associated with higher scores of hyperactivity at age 7,according to new research from the University of Cincinnati (UC) and the Children’s Hospital Medical Center of Cincinnati in United States, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives’.
Nicholas Newman, director of Pediatric Environmental Health Clinic at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and lead author of the research said that “there is growing concern about the possible effects of air pollution related to traffic on the developing brain . This impact is not fully understood due to limited epidemiological studies “.
Newman and his colleagues collected data on air pollution related to traffic (TRAP) Study on Air Pollution and Allergies in Childhood in Cincinnati (WSSCC) a long-term epidemiological study examining the effects of the particles Traffic on children’s respiratory health and allergy development.
The results showed that children who were exposed
to the third largest number of TRAP in the first year
of life were more likely to have hyperactivity scores
in the range of “risk” when they were 7 years old.
Funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and directed by Grace LeMasters, Environmental Health Department, in CCAAPS involved infants in the Cincinnati metropolitan area from 2001 to 2003, elected on the basis of family history and place of residence near or far from a major highway or bus route.
The children were followed from infancy to age 7, when parents completed the second edition of the Behavioral Assessment System for Children (BASC-2), the assessment of disorder attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and related symptoms, including attention problems, aggression, behavior problems, and aberrant behavior.
Higher exposure to air pollution was associated
with a significant increase in hyperactivity only among
children whose mothers had a higher level of education
The results showed that children who were exposed to the third largest number of TRAP in the first year of life were more likely to have hyperactivity scores in the range of “risk” when they were 7 years old, but they have to be carefully monitored, since they are at risk of developing clinically important symptoms.
“Several biological mechanisms may explain the association between hyperactive behavior and air pollution related to traffic,” says Newman, including narrowed blood vessels in the body and toxicity in the frontal cortex of the brain.
Newman notes that higher exposure to air pollution was associated with a significant increase in hyperactivity only among children whose mothers had a higher level of education. Mothers with higher education can expect higher achievements, says this expert, which affects the parent report of behavior problems of children.
“The observed association between air pollution and traffic-related hyperactivity can have far-reaching implications for public health,” says Newman, who noted that studies have shown that approximately 11 percent of the U.S. population lives less than 100 meters from a four-lane highway and that 40 percent of children attend school less than 400 meters from a main road.
“Air pollution related to traffic is one of the many factors associated with changes in neurological development, but one that is potentially preventable”,says Newman.