19 Mar 2016

Air pollution link to childhood behavioural problems

From This Way Up, 1:12 pm on 19 March 2016
Pregnant belly

Photo: / CC BY 2.0

A link has been revealed between exposure to air pollution during pregnancy and later childhood behavioural problems.

Simon Morton gets the latest from Dr Chris Smith of The Naked Scientists and Columbia University Medical Center researcher Amy Margolis:

Dr Chris Smith says that air pollution has already been identified as a significant public health risk by the World Health Organisation. In 2012 the WHO said that one in eight deaths around the world are linked to poor air quality, describing air pollution as "the world's largest single environmental health risk."

But a study by Columbia University Medical Center researcher Amy Margolis, published this week in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, suggests that premature death is not the only risk arising from breathing bad air.

The researchers followed 462 pairs of mothers and their children over a decade. It found that children who were exposed in the womb to higher levels of emissions from vehicles, coal and oil burning, home heating and tobacco smoke, were at increased risk of developing behavioural problems as they grow up.

"This study indicates that prenatal exposure to air pollution impacts development of self-regulation and as such may underlie the development of many childhood psychopathologies that derive from deficits in self-regulation, such as ADHD, OCD, substance use disorders, and eating disorders" ~ Amy Margolis.