Air pollution increases risk of ADHD in children

Children who live in areas with more air pollution and less greenery are more likely to develop ADHD. That’s the conclusion of a new, large-scale study.

When children are frequently exposed to air pollution, especially if there is a high percentage of harmful PM2.5 particles in the air, they are up to 62 percent more likely to develop ADHD.

PM2.5 particles are inhalable fine particles, up to 2.5 micrometers in diameter. They are part of the particles. These particles are dangerous because they can penetrate deep into the respiratory tract.

In contrast, children who live in greener and less polluted areas have half the risk of developing the disorder.

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and is one of the most common developmental disorders. In Dutch one talks about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Children with this condition are often very busy and easily distracted. It often causes difficulties in school at an early age.

environmental inequality

Researchers at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) relied on data dating back to 2000 on 37,000 children living near Vancouver, Canada.

We have seen that children who live in greener neighborhoods with less air pollution have a significantly lower risk of developing ADHD. This is an environmental disparity, because children who live in more polluted and less green areas are at a disproportionately greater risk,” explains lead author Matilda van den Bosch. These associations are of particular interest because exposure occurs during the first years of life, a critical period of brain development in which children are particularly at risk. It is important to be able to adapt to such exposures. In practice, this means that these results can be used for healthier urban planning.

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This is not the first time that ADHD has been linked to air pollution. Previous research has shown that exposure to air pollution during pregnancy is associated with developmental delays at age three, and psychological and behavioral problems later, including symptoms of ADHD, anxiety and depression.

When children are frequently exposed to air pollution, especially if there is a high percentage of harmful PM2.5 particles in the air, they are up to 62 percent more likely to develop ADHD. PM2.5 particles are inhalable fine particles, up to 2.5 micrometers in diameter. They are part of the particles. These particles are dangerous because they can penetrate deeply into the respiratory system, and in contrast, children who live in greener and less polluted areas are half the risk of developing the disorder. ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and is one of the most common developmental disorders. In Dutch one talks about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Children with this condition are often very busy and easily distracted. At a young age, it often causes difficulties in school. Researchers at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) based on data dating back to 2000 on 37,000 children in the Canadian city of Vancouver. “We have seen that children who live in greener neighborhoods with less air pollution have a significantly lower risk of developing ADHD. This is an environmental disparity, because children who live in more polluted and less green areas are at a disproportionately greater risk.” , explains lead author Matilda van den Bosch. These associations are of particular interest because exposures occur during the first years of life, a critical period of brain development when children are particularly at risk. It is important to be able to adapt to such exposures. In practical terms, this means that these findings can be used for healthier urban planning.” This is not the first time that ADHD has been linked to air pollution. Previous research has shown that exposure to air pollution during pregnancy is linked to developmental delays at age three. and later psychological and behavioral problems, including symptoms of ADHD, anxiety and depression.

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