Scans reveal how pollution may alter anxious children's brain chemicals

Mail Online | 5/21/2019 | Natalie Rahhal Deputy Health Editor For
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Air pollution from cars' exhaust fumes may be altering the structure of children's brains to make them more anxious, new research suggests.

Researchers have long noted higher rates of mental illness, learning and developmental delays (not to mention asthma and obesity) among children growing up near congested freeways.

Time - University - Cincinnati - Scientists - Signs

For the first time, however, University of Cincinnati scientists have actually seen signs of those changes, using neuroimaging.

Those exposed to pollution had higher volumes of a metabolite that has been linked to Alzheimer's disease and brain disease.

Children - Rates - Term - Anxiety - Scientists

And the same children had higher rates of short term anxiety, giving the scientists a clue to one way that pollution might affect the brain to increase risks of mental illness.

Over 40 percent of Americans live in cities and towns that have unhealthy levels of air pollution.

Particles - Pollution - Pollution - Ozone - People

Fine particles, short-term pollution, long-term pollution and ozone are all bad for people of all ages in many ways, including raising risks for asthma, heart and lung diseases and diabetes.

But developing fetuses, infants and children are in particularly dire danger around pollution because their lungs and brains are still developing.

World - Health - Organization - Children - Age

The World Health Organization estimates that 700,000 children under age five die every year due to air pollution.

Children's lungs do not grow as big or as strong in heavily polluted areas.

Matter - Air - Lungs - Brain - Damage

And that fine matter from the air can travel from their lungs to the brain and damage protective membranes there.

Studies consistently demonstrate that children growing up in smoggy air perform more poorly on cognitive tests, have higher rates of ADHD, autism and other behavioral disorders.

Study - 10-year-olds - Year - Signs - Pollution

A Dutch study of nearly 800 six- to 10-year-olds last year found signs that those exposed to pollution had changes in their cerebral cortices.

These outer portions of the brain are essential to impulse control - a function that...
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