Kids living near major roads at higher risk of developmental delays, IRP study suggests
Young children who live close to a major roadway are twice as likely to score lower on tests of communications skills, compared to those who live farther away from a major roadway, according to an analysis by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and the University of California, Merced. Moreover, children born to women exposed during pregnancy to higher-than-normal levels of traffic-related pollutants — ultra-fine airborne particles and ozone — had a small but significantly higher likelihood of developmental delays during infancy and early childhood. The study appears in Environmental Research.
“Our results suggest that it may be prudent to minimize exposure to air pollution during pregnancy, infancy, and early childhood — all key periods for brain development,” said Pauline Mendola, Ph.D., an investigator in the Division of Intramural Population Health Research at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the study’s senior author.
Previous studies have linked exposure to common air pollutants in pregnancy to low birthweight, preterm birth and stillbirth. A few studies have found a higher risk of autism and of lower cognitive functioning in children living near freeways, but results of studies about how prenatal and early childhood exposure to air pollution might affect development have been inconsistent.
This page was last updated on Friday, January 21, 2022