Air pollution, stress linked to attention, thought problems in kids, says study
A new study by a group of American researchers have revealed that children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and has exposure to air pollution are prone to stress, thought and attention problems. The study highlights on why parents must give their child’s mental health equal importance as that of the physical.
Over the years, experts have pointed out the many negative impacts of air pollution on children. A new study by a group of American researchers highlights on how children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and has exposure to air pollution are prone to early life stress. This in turn, affects their thought and attention problems too. The study also highlights why parents must be careful towards the mental needs and requirements of children.
Detailed insight into the study
This new study was conducted by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Researchers pointed out children from disadvantaged backgrounds are often prone to stress. This affects them in many ways including having low attention and thought problems. Apparently, early life stress has a deep impact on the person for a longer time in life. This is precisely the reason why parents must be extremely vigilant about their child’s mental health.
Air pollutants are common in our environment, particularly in cities, and given socioeconomic inequities and environmental injustice, children growing up in disadvantaged circumstances are more likely to experience both life stress and exposure to neurotoxic chemicals- Amy Margolis, Assistant Professor, Medical Psychology in Psychiatry, Columbia Psychiatry.
The study was conducted on mothers living across the United States of America. They wore an air monitoring backpack during the third trimester of pregnancy in order to measure their exposure to air pollutants. When the child was around five years old, mothers reported about the living conditions of the child from which researchers arrived at conclusions.
Importance of reaching out to the child
Even today, discussion of mental health is considered to be a taboo in most parts of India. In spite of the many awareness programs and workshops, people still have a long way to go. This new study highlights on the importance of parents and caregivers reaching out to children at a young age. If required, the child must be given clinical help.
“Pollution is harmful at many levels. Studies show how it can affect an individual right from their birth when he or she is in their mother’s womb. The mental health is also deeply affected. There are many biological reasons to it which we need to consider. We are clearly doing harm to our children by disrespecting the amount of pollution around us”, says Radhika K, a Clinical Psychologist from Bengaluru.
The psychological health of a child must be constantly checked on. In fact,a separate study highlighted on how air pollution and poverty lowered a child’s IQ.