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Current Affairs

Air Pollution causes anxiety and depression in children

Date: 27 May 2019 Tags: Miscellaneous

According to recently published study, exposure to Traffic-Related Air Pollution (TRAP) can alter brain chemicals in children, increasing the risk of mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. The study was based on evaluation of imaging of 145 children at average age of 12 years, looking specifically at levels of myo-inositol found in the brain through specialised MRI technique, magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

Myo-inositol

It is a naturally-occurring metabolite mainly found in specialised brain cells known as glial cells. It assists maintaining cell volume and fluid balance in brain, and serves as regulator for hormones and insulin in the body.

Study Findings

  • Traffic-related air pollutants are emitted by vehicles such as cars, trucks, buses, and non-road equipment (ex. recreational vehicles or lawn equipment) from burning of fossil fuels.  They contribute significantly to outdoor air pollution, especially in urban settings.
  • Children are especially sensitive to air pollution, and there is increasing evidence that exposure to TRAP may impact pregnancy outcomes and child development.  It also found that central nervous system of children is particularly vulnerable to air pollution, suggesting a role in the etiology of mental disorders, like anxiety or depression.