It’s not only our lungs that suffer – three new studies have found that mental health issues in children may be linked to air pollution

Scientists at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Cincinnati, found that short-term exposure to ambient air pollution was associated with exacerbations of psychiatric disorders in children one to two days later.

This was marked by increased utilisation of the Cincinnati Children’s emergency department for psychiatric issues.

They also found that children living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods may be more susceptible to the effects of air pollution compared to other children, especially for disorders related to anxiety and suicide.

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Traffic air pollution linked to generalised anxiety

Two other recent Cincinnati Children’s studies found an association between recent high traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) exposure and higher generalised anxiety.

The study also used neuroimaging to link TRAP exposure, metabolic disturbances in the brain, and generalised anxiety symptoms among otherwise healthy children. The scientists found higher myoinositol concentrations in the brain – a marker of the brain’s neuroinflammatory response to TRAP.

Early life traffic air pollution linked to depression

Researchers also found that exposure to TRAP during early life and across childhood to be significantly associated with self-reported depression and anxiety symptoms in 12-year-olds. Similar findings have been reported in adults.

“Collectively, these studies contribute to the growing body of evidence that exposure to air pollution during early life and childhood may contribute to depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems in adolescence,” says one of the lead authors of the studies, Patrick Ryan, PhD from the division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

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Source: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center via www.sciencedaily.com

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