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Smog's harmful impact on children's brain development: A new study

Smog's harmful impact on children's brain development: A new study

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Anna RusakAnna Rusak,19.12.2023 07:00

A recent study conducted by scientists in Barcelona has revealed that smog has adverse effects on children's brains. It impairs certain regions of the brain and could be linked to the development of depression. These findings suggest that smog is a serious threat to children's health.

A team of experts from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health conducted a study to investigate the impact of air pollution on children's brains. The analysis was recently published in the scientific journal Environmental Pollution.

Over 3,500 children participated in the survey, and the researchers monitored the effects of air pollution on their brains every month until the youngest participants were eight years and six months old. The study focused on the cerebral white matter, which connects different brain areas and can be measured by observing its microstructure.

The researchers discovered that abnormal white matter structure is associated with mental illnesses, including depression.

Even unborn children are exposed to smog

The study has shown that the more children are exposed to smog and other air pollutants before the age of five, the more their brain structure changes. Moreover, even children who are not yet born are exposed to the harmful effects of smog.

"One of the important conclusions of this study is that the infant’s brain is particularly susceptible to the effects of air pollution not only during pregnancy, as has been shown in earlier studies, but also during childhood," says Anne-Claire Binter, ISGlobal researcher and co-author of the study, as quoted by the Independent.

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Researchers have found that polluted air particles can negatively affect the development of a brain structure called the putamen, which is involved in motor function and learning processes. The concentration of contaminated particles in the air is directly proportional to the growth of the putamen.

Children within the first two years of their lives are more vulnerable to this adverse effect. The larger volume of the putamen often accompanies certain mental disorders such as schizophrenia and autism, according to researcher Anne-Claire Binter.

In short, polluted air can not only affect your health but also hinder the development of your children's brains.

Source: The Independent

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