The air pollution in childhood tied to schizophrenia


In the child and the adult, exposure to short and long term to the pollution of the air ambient can affect their health. On the topic, the world health Organization (WHO) is in the first place to guard against the risk of ischemic heart disease, STROKE, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), acute infections of the lower respiratory tract gold lung cancer. Purpose on the occasion of the world environment Day in 2019, its experts have made it clear that ” new elements of evidence point to other effects, such as diabetes, problems of neurological development in children and neurodegenerative diseases in adults “.


A new study conducted by researchers from the university of Aarhus (Denmark) and published in the scientific journal JAMA Network Open shows once again that air pollution affects the physical health but also mental health. The latter, which combines genetic data with data on air pollution, shows that children who are exposed to a high level of air pollution during their growth have an increased risk of developing schizophrenia. As explained by the Inserm, he is a psychiatric illness characterized by a set of symptoms very variable, of which the most impressive are the delusions and hallucinations.


One risk related to emissions of nitrogen dioxide


The organisation indicates that schizophrenia is a complex disease whose occurrence depends on the presence of genetic elements and environmental factors. According to him, ” the actual weight of the environmental factors is still poorly known, but the work suggest some elements influencing the development of the brain could lead to a risk of developing schizophrenia. “The researchers wanted to answer this question : how the combination of the exposure of children to nitrogen dioxide, whose emissions are mainly from combustion, and the genetic liability to schizophrenia is associated with the risk of developing it ?


Their study included 23 355 people who were followed from their 10 years until their emigration, death, the end of the study, or in the event of hospitalization for schizophrenia : this was the case for 3 of the 531 of them. The results showed that the higher the level of pollution of the air is, the higher the risk of schizophrenia is also high. For each increase of 10 µg / m3, the risk increases to approximately 20%. “Children exposed to an average rate higher than 25 µg/m3 have 60% additional risk of be suffering from the condition, compared with those exposed to concentrations below 10 µg/m3. “says the Pr Henriette Thisted Horsdal, main author of the study.


Year inflammation caused in the brain


To put these figures in perspective, the researchers said that the average risk of developing schizophrenia is about 2%. For people exposed to a low level of air pollution, this average has remained virtually the same, while the risk for people exposed chronically to a high level of air pollution is about 3%. But they indicated although the pollution is not the only risk factor with a strong impact, since a genetic predisposition to the disease is as important a factor. However, two elements are indeed independent of one another, take into to clarify.


Thus, “the association between air pollution and schizophrenia cannot be explained by a genetic liability is higher in people who grow up in areas with high air pollution,” adds professor Henriette Thisted Horsdal. If other work must be carried out in this field, the science team hypothesizes that a biological mechanism is involved. For example, the air pollutants could potentially cause inflammation of the tissues of the nervous system, oxidative stress, or a disruption of the blood-brain barrier. It should be noted that according to the estimates of Unicef, 300 million children in the world breathe air toxic.


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