"We observed brain development effects in relationship to fine particles levels below the current EU limit," said lead author Mònica Guxens, MD, of Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), Spain, a center supported by the "la Caixa" Foundation, and Erasmus University Medical Center, the Netherlands. This finding adds to previous studies that have linked acceptable air pollution levels with other complications including cognitive decline and fetal growth development. "Therefore, we cannot warrant the safety of the current levels of air pollution in our cities," said Dr. Guxens.
Exposure to fine particles during fetal life was associated with a thinner outer layer of the brain, called the cortex, in several regions. The study showed that these brain abnormalities contribute in part to difficulty with inhibitory control -- the ability to regulate self-control over temptations and impulsive behavior -- which is related to mental health problems such as addictive behavior and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
Study - Cohort - Netherlands - Women - Children
The study used a population-based cohort in the Netherlands, which enrolled pregnant women and followed the children from fetal life onward. Dr. Guxens and colleagues assessed air pollution levels at home during the fetal life of 783 children. The data were collected by air pollution monitoring campaigns, and included levels of nitrogen dioxide (a prominent air pollutant caused by traffic and cigarette smoking), coarse particles, and fine particles.
Brain imaging performed when the children were between 6 and...
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