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Reducing Air Pollution Boosts Children’s Intelligence: Study

    news 13 July feature

    Brain News

    Researchers at Simon Fraser University explored how reducing air pollution can enhance brain development in children. The study is published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

    The Study

    The researchers conducted a series of experiments and surveys over several years.

    In the first phase of the experiment, the research team recruited 540 pregnant, non-smoking women in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (a place with one of the worst air quality in the world, according to WHO). As part of the Ulaanbaatar Gestation and Air Pollution Research (UGAAR) study, the participants were randomly divided into control or intervention groups.

    The intervention group was given HEPA filter air cleaners and encouraged to run the air cleaners continuously for the duration of pregnancy. The air cleaners were removed once the child was born.

    In the second phase of the experiment, after 4 years, the researchers assessed the full-scale intelligence quotient (FSIQ) of the participants’ children. They used the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI).

    The Findings

    The results revealed that children born to mothers in the intervention group had an average FSIQ that was 2.8-points higher and better verbal skills than the children born in the control group.

    Air Pollution And Children’s Intelligence

    The study confirmed that exposure to air pollution negatively impacts healthy brain development in children. Therefore, the researchers recommended air pollution reduction during pregnancy and early childhood years to improve children’s cognitive development around the world.

    One of the lead researchers, Ryan Allen, elaborated: “Air pollution is everywhere, and it is preventing children from reaching their full potential. Air cleaners may provide some protection, but ultimately the only way to protect all children is to reduce emissions.”

    To Know More You May Refer To

    Ulziikhuu, B., Gombojav, E., Banzrai, C., Batsukh, S., Enkhtuya, E., Boldbaatar, B., Bellinger, D. C., Lanphear, B. P., McCandless, L. C., Tamana, S. K., & Allen, R. W. (2022). Portable HEPA Filter Air Cleaner Use during Pregnancy and Children’s Cognitive Performance at Four Years of Age: The UGAAR Randomized Controlled Trial. Environmental health perspectives130(6), 67006. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP10302