Adolescents living in urban areas with higher levels of air pollution may be more likely to experience symptoms of psychosis, which may later lead to psychotic disorders and mental health problems.
Writing in JAMA Psychiatry, a team Researchers from the UK found that psychotic experiences are much more common in children with high exposure to nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, even when genetic and socioeconomic risk factors for psychosis are considered. Surprisingly, 60% of the associations that lived in cities and had symptoms of psychosis made nitrogen dioxide and oxides.
"Children and adolescents are the most susceptible to the health effects of air pollution in the brain and the respiratory system due to the youthfulness of the population," study author Frank Kelly said in a statement. "Given that 70% of the world's population will live in cities by 2050, uncovering the mechanisms that link the urban environment with psychosis should be a top priority for health. Analyzing the effects of air pollution on health is a key component of Kings Citizens' Responsibility.
To determine whether air pollution can be associated with adolescent psychotic experiences such as voices or intense paranoia, the researchers analyzed Risk Assessment, a national database of environmental and genetic factors that contribute to mental health problems in England and Wales born adolescents contribute. The interviewers asked 1
Almost a third of the more than 2,000 respondents reported at least one psychotic episode over the past six years, most often those exposed to the highest levels of air pollution.
A link between urban life and psychotic experiences may be explained in part by higher levels of outdoor pollution in these urban areas, but the study highlights some notable limitations. For beginners, adolescents who reported on psychotic experiences were not clinically confirmed to have been. In addition, pollution was modeled only for the year prior to the interviews and may not take into account early or cumulative pollution caused by air pollution. Finally, the E-Risk study is a long-term longitudinal study of twins. Although it provides a solid representation of the population structure, the results may differ for non-twins.
"We have found that psychotic experiences are more common among adolescents in urban areas. While the study failed to show that pollutants produced psychotic experiences among adolescents, our findings suggest that air pollution could be a factor in the link between city life and psychotic experiences, "said lead author Joanne Newbury.
Reducing air pollution to protect young people's mental and physical health needs to be addressed in a rapidly developing world.