A portable air cleaner at home, according to a recent research, can help reduce the impact of air pollution on children’s brain development.
The study’s findings were published in the journal ‘Environmental Health Perspectives.’ Researchers from Simon Fraser University worked with experts from the United States and Mongolia to investigate the benefits of employing air filters to limit exposure to air pollution during pregnancy, as well as the influence on children’s IQ.
The researchers emphasise that their randomised controlled experiment is the first of its type to establish the effects of air pollution reduction on children’s cognition.
The researchers began recruiting 540 pregnant women in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in 2014 to participate in the Ulaanbaatar Gestation and Air Pollution Research (UGAAR) project. Ulaanbaatar has some of the world’s worst air quality, well surpassing World Health Organization limits (WHO).
The ladies were fewer than 18 weeks pregnant, nonsmokers, and had never utilised air filtering systems in their homes. They were randomised to either the control or intervention groups at random. The intervention group received one or two HEPA filter air cleaners and was urged to use them regularly during their pregnancies. When the baby was delivered, the air cleaners were removed from the house.
The children’s full-scale intelligence quotient (FSIQ) was then tested by the researchers at four years of age using the Weschler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence.
They discovered that children born to moms who used air cleaners during pregnancy had an average FSIQ that was 2.8 points higher than children born to mothers who did not use an air cleaner during pregnancy.
“These findings, when taken with data from prior research, significantly suggest air pollution as a hazard to brain development,” says Ryan Allen, an environmental health professor in SFU’s Faculty of Health Sciences. “However, the good news is that limiting exposure had demonstrable advantages.”
The intervention group also had considerably higher average verbal comprehension index scores, which is consistent with prior observational studies’ findings.
According to the findings, a child’s language skills may be more vulnerable to air pollution exposure.
More than 90% of the world’s population breaths air with particle matter levels that exceed WHO standards. According to the researchers, the population-level impact of air pollution on brain development might be significant even if the individual-level impacts are minor.
Their findings suggest that lowering exposure to air pollution during pregnancy might benefit children all over the world’s cognitive development.
“Air pollution is pervasive, and it keeps youngsters from attaining their full potential,” Allen continues. “While air purifiers may offer some protection, the best way to safeguard all children is to cut pollution.”