Three new studies by scientists at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Cincinnati, in the United States, highlight the relationship between air pollution and mental health in children.
The study, which is published in the journal ‘Environmental Health Perspectives’, found that short-term exposure to ambient air pollution was associated with exacerbations of psychiatric disorders in children one or two days later, as verified by the older use of the urgencies of the hospital participating in the study.
They also found that children living in disadvantaged neighborhoods may be more susceptible to the effects of air pollution compared to others, especially for anxiety-related disorders and suicide .
“This study is the first to show an association between daily levels of outdoor air pollution and the increase in symptoms of psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and suicidal tendencies, in children,” notes Dr. Cole Brokamp.
“More research is needed to confirm these findings, but it could lead to new prevention strategies for children experiencing symptoms related to a psychiatric disorder,” he adds. “The fact that children living in high-poverty neighborhoods experience greater Health effects of air pollution could mean that the pollutant and neighborhood stressors can have synergistic effects on the severity and frequency of psychiatric symptoms . ”
Two other Cincinnati Children’s studies have recently been published that also link air pollution with children’s mental health. Thus, a study published in ‘Environmental Research’ found an association between recent exposure to air pollution related to high traffic and increased general anxiety.
It is believed that the study was the first to use neuroimaging to link exposure to contamination, metabolic disorders in the brain and generalized anxiety symptoms among healthy children . He found higher concentrations of myoinositol in the brain, a marker of the brain’s neuroinflammatory response to traffic contamination.
Another study published in ‘Environmental Research’ found that exposure to pollution during the first years of life and during childhood was significantly associated with symptoms of self-reported depression and anxiety in 12-year-old children.
Similar findings have been reported in adults, but research showing clear connections between exposure to pollution and mental health in children has been limited.
“Together, these studies contribute to the growing body of evidence that exposure to air pollution during the early years and childhood can contribute to depression, anxiety and other mental health problems in adolescence,” says the doctor. Patrick Ryan of the Cincinnati Children’s Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology – More research is needed to replicate these findings and discover underlying mechanisms for these associations. “