Environmental toxins have long been associated with learning disabilities, and now a new study adds fuel to the fire (pun intended). Researchers at the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center have linked early exposure to traffic-related air pollution with ADHD.
The study, purportedly the largest and longest of its kind, followed a cohort of 576 children from infancy through age 7. By age 7, researchers found that children who were exposed to high levels of traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) during the first year of life were significantly more likely to be “at risk” for ADHD. According to a report in Medical News Today, “The ‘at risk’ range for hyperactivity in children means that they need to be monitored carefully because they are at risk for developing clinically important symptoms.”
“The observed association between traffic-related air pollution and hyperactivity may have far-reaching implications for public health,” explained lead author Nicholas Newman, DO, director of the Pediatric Environmental Health and Lead Clinic at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Newman pointed out that an estimated 11 percent of the U.S. population lives within 100 meters of a four-lane highway and that 40 percent of children attend school within 400 meters of a major highway.
“Traffic-related air pollution is one of many factors associated with changes in neurodevelopment,” Newman added. “But it is one that is potentially preventable.”
The study was published in Environmental Health Perspectives, a peer-reviewed open access journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.