Exposure to air pollution may be linked to deterioration in cognitive skills

A research group at the University of Edinburgh uncovered that an increase in exposure to air pollution during childhood may deteriorate one’s cognitive skills once nearing late-adulthood, around the age of 70.

The results appeared in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The study recruited over 500 participants in late-adulthood, all of which had taken part in a general intelligence test at age 11. The tests were re-administered by age 76 through 79 to assess their cognitive abilities.

Using the EMEP4UK atmospheric chemistry transport model, researchers were able to establish pollution levels the participants may have experienced throughout a span of many decades.

The participants were derived from the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 study, originating in the early-20th century.

Although the results weren’t necessarily drastic or significant in nature, researchers did notice that pollution in early childhood in fact did lead to a considerable association with a decline in cognition later in life.

From the findings: “For the first time we have shown the effect that exposure to air pollution very early in life could have on the brain many decades later.”

“This is the first step towards understanding the harmful effects of air pollution on the brain and could help reduce the risk of dementia for future generations,” the study concluded.

Image courtesy of Getty Images
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