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Barcelona scientists link air pollution with ADHD in children
01 June 2017 @ 13:04

AIR pollution caused by carbon monoxide leads to significant changes in children's brain structure, even when levels of contamination are below the European Union's recommended maximum, says a worrying report by a Barcelona research team.

Aromatic Polyclinical Hydrocarburates (APHs), found in exhaust fumes, cigarette smoke, burning fossil fuels, smoke from burning food, and other pollutants such as industrial fumes and burning rubber and chemicals are associated with a higher incidence of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), according to the study published in Environment International.

The main culprit is traffic pollution, reveals the team at Barcelona's Global Health Institute (ISGlobal), whose BREATHE Project studied 242 male and female children aged between eight and 12 from 39 schools in the metropolitan area.

Air contamination levels were tested, and the participant pupils' brain structure examined via MRI scans.

Results showed that high exposure to APHs, particularly Benzopyrene, correlated with a reduction in the caudate nucleus, a component of the basal ganglia.

The caudate nuclei are located near the central part of the brain, straddling the thalamus – which controls basic functions such as feeling hungry, thirsty, hot or cold – and play a major role in motor processes, or movement and organ function.

These nuclei have also been associated with non-motor functions such as procedural learning – or skills that are exercised automatically once acquired, such as walking or writing – associative learning, and inhibitory control, or the 'moral brake' on instinctive behaviour which falls within the brain's 'reward system'.



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