Exposure to air pollution during childhood may increase the risk of mental illness later in life

A study conducted in Europe found that exposure to air pollution in early childhood was associated with a higher risk of mental illness later in life.

The findings appeared in the journal JAMA.

Throughout the study, 2,000 infants born in Europe during the mid-1990s were followed until early adulthood. Assessments of physical and psychological health were administered.

According to the study: “In this cohort study of 2.039 UK-born children followed up for 2 decades, early-life exposure to nitrogen oxides was significantly associated with general psychopathology at 18 years of age, representing greater internalizing, externalizing, and thought disorder symptoms. The associations were not attributable to individual or family-level factors or to disadvantageous neighborhood characteristics.”

“Youths exposed to higher levels of outdoor NOx experienced greater psychopathology at the transition to adulthood. Air pollution may be a nonspecific risk factor for the development of psychopathology,” researchers determined.

Image courtesy of AP
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