Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How does Traffic-Related Air Pollution Affect Babies’ Brains?

Category:Educational research
Category:Educational research (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Prenatal and Childhood Traffic-Related Pollution Exposure and Childhood Cognition in the Project Viva Cohort (31 page pdf, Maria H. Harris, Diane R. Gold, Sheryl L. Rifas-Shiman, Steven J. Melly, Antonella Zanobetti, Brent A. Coull, Joel D. Schwartz, Alexandros Gryparis, Itai Kloog, Petros Koutrakis, David C. Bellinger, Roberta F. White, Sharon K. Sagiv, and Emily Oken, Environmental Health Perspectives, Apr. 3, 2015)

Today we review the impact of traffic- related air pollution (which includes tire wear particles and dust, as well as noise and tail pipe emissions) on the thinking or cognitive abilities of babies. Results indicate lower IQs (by 7.5 points) –both verbal and non-verbal- for children who, at birth, were living less than 50 m from heavy traffic. It also indicates that exposure during gestation or early childhood is more important than proximity to pollution later in childhood.

Key Quotes:

“We examined associations of child cognitive outcomes with exposure to traffic-related air pollutants in late pregnancy and childhood.”

 “Compared to children living ≥200 m from a major roadway at birth, those living <50 m away had lower non-verbal IQ

“non -verbal IQ scores were also lower among children living <50 m versus ≥ 200 m from a major roadway at the time of cognitive testing” “there was no evidence of adverse association between third trimester PM2.5 and cognitive outcomes”

Prenatal and childhood exposure to traffic density and PM2.5 did not appear associated with poorer cognitive peeformance”

“These findings suggest that major roadway proximity during gestation and early life might have a greater influence on cognitive development than major roadway proximity later in childhood”

Air pollution exposure could impair neurodevelopment through several pathways, including endocrine disruption, epigenetic changes, or systemic inflammatory responses leading to oxidative stress.. There is also evidence that chronic exposure to noise may be associated with decreased cognitive function in children”

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