Exposure to noise and pollution increases the risk of mental illness in children and adolescents

Exposure to noise and pollution increases the risk of mental illness in children and adolescents

Exposure to noise and pollution increases the risk of mental illness in children and adolescentsRicard Cugat

Breathing polluted air and living in very noisy environments are risk factors for mental illness in children and adolescents. According to an international study published Tuesday in the scientific journal JAMA Network Open, exposure to these environmental pollutants during the early stages of life increases the possibility of cancer. Development of psychotic disorders, depression and anxiety Throughout adolescence and childhood. “Interventions to reduce exposure to air and noise pollution, e.g creating green areas, “They could be keys to improving the mental health of populations,” say the experts who carried out this work, led by researcher Joan B. Newbery, from the University of Bristol.

The analysis, conducted by a panel of British experts in public health and psychiatry, takes as a reference Data from more than 9,000 resident children between the ages of 12 and 24 years in the UK. In all cases, the researchers collected, on the one hand, information about the exposure to air pollution and environmental noise that the children experienced from the first years of life until adulthood, and, on the other hand, assessments about their mental health status. .

Exposure to polluted air increases the risk of psychotic disorders and depression, while excessive noise exacerbates anxiety.

Detailed analysis of all this information made it possible to find a relationship between exposure to these sources of pollution and injury Risk of mental illness In children, adolescents and young adults. Breathing polluted air was associated with an increased risk of psychotic disorders and depression, while exposure to high levels of noise was associated with an increased risk of anxiety.

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Reinforcement effect

According to the authors of this work, this is the first time that the impact of this phenomenon on children and adolescents has been pointed out. So far, as previous research has indicated, exposure to urban pollution is one of the factors that increase the risk of psychosis and depression in adults. There were also other works referring to it Multiple damages from environmental and noise pollution In respiratory, cardiovascular, and even brain health (such as research showing how these phenomena can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease). But in most cases, the studies focused on adults, not children. That’s why this work is important.

“This study provides us with evidence to do so To reconsider the impact of pollution “It impacts neurodevelopment and mental health throughout childhood and young adulthood,” says John Andoni Donapitiya, director of the Nebrija Center for Cognitive Research. According to this specialist in the statements of the Scientific Information Center in Spain, more and more large-scale works referring to Hazard caused by exposure to small pollutant particlesAs well as environmental pollution in the early stages such as pregnancy or the first years of a person’s life. In this sense, Andoni asserts that pollution “happened strong effect for mental health problems during adolescence and young adulthood.

More and more studies show how pollution harms children’s cognitive development and has negative effects on respiratory and cardiovascular health

A study conducted by ISGlobal a few years ago in 38 schools in Barcelona, ​​for example, showed that prolonged exposure to air and noise pollution harms children’s cognitive development. In this case, the analysis showed that boys and girls more exposed to traffic develop, on average, Slower working memory and attention span From their schoolmates, away from the noise and smoke of cars. One of the most surprising data from the study was that of Every five decibels increase In external noise, the ability to retain short-term information was observed to decrease by 11.4% and the ability to process complex data by 23.5%.

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Possible solutions

As strongly as experts warn of the dangers of pollution, they also insist on its necessity Apply the necessary measures to slow it down And then Improving citizens’ health. Especially in big cities where pollution and noise are worse. In fact, the team led by Joan P. Newberry proposes a number of interventions. For example, creating more green areas where better air quality and a significant reduction in noise are guaranteed. It also calls for implementing measures to reduce environmental noise in residential areas and schools, strengthening policies that regulate emissions in urban environments and finding ways to reduce environmental noise. – Reducing youth exposure to all types of pollution .

Experts call for creating green spaces and reducing noise and environmental pollution in residential and school areas

As environmental epidemiologist Nathalie Müller, from the ISGlobal team, explains, creating green spaces of all kinds “is One of the large gardens full of plants “Increasing the presence of trees and green spaces on the streets” is one of the main measures to improve the health of urban residents. “Green spaces promote physical activity and have a very positive effect on mental health,” comments Müller. “The creation of these spaces also promotes socialization and this is also very important for social well-being,” said this specialist in an interview with the newspaper EL PERIÓDICO, from the same editorial group as Diari de Girona.

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