Noise and pollution affect children’s mental health

Noise and pollution affect children’s mental health

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 yesterday in the scientific journal JAMA Network Open, exposure to these environmental pollutants during the early stages of life increases the likelihood of developing psychotic disorders, depression, and anxiety throughout adolescence and childhood. “Interventions to reduce exposure to air and noise pollution, such as creating green areas, could be key to improving the mental health of residents,” say the experts who carried out this work, led by researcher Joan P Newbery, from the University of Bristol.

The analysis, conducted by a group of British experts in public health and psychiatry, takes as reference data from more than 9,000 children aged between 12 and 24 living 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 their early years until adulthood, and, on the other hand, assessments about the state of their mental health.

Depression and anxiety

Detailed analysis of all this information has made it possible to find a relationship between exposure to these sources of pollution and the 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. According to the authors, this is the first time that the impact of this phenomenon on children and adolescents has been reported.

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