Friday, 1 April 2016

New Study Links Prenatal Exposure To Pollution To Behavioral Problems In Children

Image source: psypost.org
A recent study found that prenatal exposure to air pollution may adversely affect fetuses. The study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology, suggested that women who were constantly exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) – a common air pollutant – are at an increased risk of having children who have anxiety, depression, or even attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. These pollutants are found in emissions from cars, smoke, and burning coal.

Image source: psychcentral.com
The study showed that the exposure to PAH pollutant negatively impacts the gestation of the unborn child, particularly the development of the area of the brain that controls self-regulation. The study found that misbehaving children expressed difficulty in managing negative thoughts, impulses, and emotions. These children were also shown to have poor social skills and are more likely to participate in high-risk behaviors as they age. This study augments another research published in 2013 that found that children who were heavily exposed to traffic pollution had problems with memory and scored poorly on cognitive tests. It was found that prenatal exposure to air pollution can have long-term effects on children – particularly in areas that require social competence.

Thankfully, exposure to PAH is easily preventable. The adverse effects of these pollutants were recorded among women who constantly and continually exposed themselves to harmful air pollutants. For women living in cities, it is recommended that they invest in air masks or reduce their exposure to areas that emit heavy pollution.

Dr. Jonathan Lauter’s practice focuses on child and adolescent psychiatry. Learn more by visiting this Facebook page.