Air Pollution and Neuropsychological Development: A Review of the Latest Evidence

Elisabet Suades-González, Mireia Gascon, Mònica Guxens, Jordi Sunyer
Endocrinology 2015, 156 (10): 3473-82
For the last decade, literature on the detrimental impacts of air pollution on brain, cognition and behavior has exponentially increased. Our aim is to review the latest epidemiologic literature on the association between outdoor air pollution and neuropsychological developmental in children. Two independent researchers searched for published studies between January 1, 2012 and June 12, 2015 in MEDLINE, Web of Science, and Science direct using defined keywords on outdoor air pollution and neuropsychological development. Selection of articles was based on study eligibility criteria. We encountered sufficient evidence of detrimental effects of pre- or postnatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons on global intelligence quotient. The evidence was also sufficient for the association between pre- or postnatal exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and autism spectrum disorder, and limited evidence was encountered between nitrogen oxides and autism spectrum disorder. For other exposure-outcome associations reviewed, the evidence was inadequate or insufficient. Although evidence is not yet conclusive and further research is needed, the latest epidemiological studies support the hypothesis that pre- or postnatal exposure to ambient pollution, particularly polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, PM2.5, and nitrogen oxides has a negative impact on the neuropsychological development of children. The public health impact of air pollutants cannot be ignored and the precautionary principle should be applied to protect children.


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