Busy Roads Are Bad for Children’s Brains, Study Suggests

LIVING NEAR A MAJOR roadway can expose young children to pollution that may hurt their brain development, a new study says.

Past research indicates exposure to higher levels of traffic-related pollution can cause childhood asthma and may lead to other serious health conditions like cardiovascular disease. The new analysis of nearly 6,000 children in upstate New York who were born between 2008 and 2010 suggests young children living closer to a major roadway are more likely to be at risk of communication-related developmental delays than those who live farther away.

Researchers also found a “weak but significant” link between pregnant women’s exposure to air pollutants and their children’s likelihood of failing some of a developmental screening, according to the study, published in the journal 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,” Pauline Mendola, a researcher with the National Institutes of Health and the study’s senior author, said in a statement.

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