London: A team of researchers has linked intellectual disabilities among children to rising air pollution, stressing that exposure outdoor may impede cognitive development.
According to the study funded by Public Health England and published in the Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, British children with intellectual disabilities are more likely than their peers to live in areas with high outdoor air pollution.
The team reached the conclusion from an analysis of data extracted from the UK’s Millennium Cohort Study, a nationally representative sample of more than 18,000 UK children born in 2000 to 2002.
“We know that people with intellectual disabilities in the UK have poorer health and die earlier than they should.
“This research adds another piece to the jigsaw of understanding why that is the case and what needs to be done about it,” said lead author and doctor Eric Emerson from The University of Sydney.
Averaging across ages, children with intellectual disabilities were 33 per cent more likely to live in areas with high levels of diesel particulate matter and 30 per cent more likely to live in areas with high levels of nitrogen dioxide.
“These children were 30 per cent more likely to live in areas with high levels of carbon monoxide and 17 per cent more likely to live in areas with high levels of sulphur dioxide,” the findings showed.
The authors noted that intellectual disability is more common among children living in more socio-economically deprived areas, which tend to have higher levels of air pollution.