Breathing Dirty Air Lowers Childrens IQ Scores: New Study

Children who grow up breathing traffic-polluted air have lower IQs and score lower on other types of intelligence and memory tests than kids who breathe higher quality air.  The finding is the result of research conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health and published in a recent issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Researchers examined 202 children between the ages of 8 and 11 living in Boston, Massachusetts.  They determined, among other things, that breathing carbon-polluted air throughout childhood had an effect on childhood intelligence roughly equivalent to that of a mother smoking 10 cigarettes per day throughout her pregnancy, or to early childhood lead poisoning.

Heavy exposure to black carbon was associated, on average, with a reduction of 3.4 IQ points.  Those children also scored low on tests designed to determine language development, learning ability and memory.  Researchers suspect the effects of the pollution can be attributed to inflammation and oxidative damage within the brain brought on by exposure to black carbon.

Authors of the study advise that prolonged exposure to air pollution has been linked to a number of other ill effects on pediatric health, and that the only effective remedy appears to be relocation to an area with improved air quality. 

Previously on the DC Metro Area Medical Malpractice Law Blog, we have posted articles related to:

  • A study linking unnecessary Caesarean deliveries to breathing problems
  • New guidelines for the management of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
  • The under-diagnosis of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease among smokers

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