Previous studies have linked air pollution to numerous respiratory problems. Now, recent findings published in the journal PLOS ONE reveal that expectant mothers exposed to air pollution can drastically increase the risk of giving birth to children with ADHD or other behavioral health issues.
"This study suggests that exposure to PAH encountered in New York City air may play a role in childhood ADHD," said lead author Frederica Perera, DrPH, PhD, director of the Center and professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School, in a news release. "The findings are concerning because attention problems are known to impact school performance, social relationships, and occupational performance."
For the study, researchers examined 233 nonsmoking pregnant women and their children in New York City. They found that those born to mothers exposed to high levels of PAH (defined as toxic air pollutants from boilers, traffic or electricity generating plants from fossil fuel) during pregnancy were five times more likely to develop ADHD-symptoms by age 9 compared to those who did not deal with high PAH exposure.
Statistics show that about 11 percent of children 4-17 (6.4 million) have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The latest findings look to explore the link between prenatal PAH and ADHD in children, particularly over time.
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