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Pollution even when 'safe' slows down brain growth in kids

IANS  |  London 

Babies exposed to even "safe" levels of in the womb may be at an increased risk of having brain abnormalities that can contribute to impaired cognitive function by school-age, finds a study.

According to the 25 µg/m3 is the safe level of fine particle.

Previous studies have linked acceptable levels with impact on lungs, heart, and other organs including cognitive decline and foetal growth development.

However, the new study showed that levels related to brain alterations in the foetal brain, which is in developing stages and has no mechanisms to protect against or remove environmental toxins, were below those considered to be safe.

"We observed brain development effects in relationship to fine particles levels below the current EU limit," Monica Guxens, MD, of for Global (ISGlobal) in

The findings showed that exposure to fine particles during foetal life was associated with a thinner outer layer of the brain, called the cortex, in several regions.

These brain abnormalities contribute in part to difficulty with inhibitory control -- the ability to regulate self-control over temptations and impulsive behaviour -- which is related to mental problems such as addictive behaviour and

"The observed cognitive delays at early ages could have significant long-term consequences such as increased risk of mental disorders and low academic achievement, in particular due to the ubiquity of the exposure," Guxens said.

"Therefore, we cannot warrant the safety of the current levels of air pollution in our cities," he added.

For the study, published in Biological Psychiatry, the team assessed air pollution levels, including levels of nitrogen dioxide -- a prominent air pollutant caused by traffic and cigarette smoking --, coarse particles, and fine particles, at home during the foetal life of 783 children.

Brain imaging performed when the children were between six and 10 years old revealed abnormalities in the thickness of the brain cortex of the precuneus and rostral middle frontal region.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, March 09 2018. 13:26 IST