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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Jun 30;112(26):7937-42. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1503402112. Epub 2015 Jun 15.

Green spaces and cognitive development in primary schoolchildren.

Author information

1
Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), 08003 Barcelona, Spain; Experimental and Health Sciences, Pompeu Fabra University, 08003 Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain; Ciber on Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP), 28029 Madrid, Spain; pdadvand@creal.cat.
2
Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), 08003 Barcelona, Spain; Experimental and Health Sciences, Pompeu Fabra University, 08003 Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain; Ciber on Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP), 28029 Madrid, Spain;
3
Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), 08003 Barcelona, Spain; Experimental and Health Sciences, Pompeu Fabra University, 08003 Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain; Ciber on Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP), 28029 Madrid, Spain; Department of Genes and Environment, Division of Epidemiology, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, 0473, Oslo, Norway;
4
Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), 08003 Barcelona, Spain; Experimental and Health Sciences, Pompeu Fabra University, 08003 Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain; Ciber on Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP), 28029 Madrid, Spain; Department of Geosciences, Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC-IDEA), 08034 Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain;
5
Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-7360;
6
Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095;
7
Department of Geosciences, Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC-IDEA), 08034 Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain;
8
Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), 08003 Barcelona, Spain; Experimental and Health Sciences, Pompeu Fabra University, 08003 Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain; Ciber on Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP), 28029 Madrid, Spain; Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM), 08003 Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

Abstract

Exposure to green space has been associated with better physical and mental health. Although this exposure could also influence cognitive development in children, available epidemiological evidence on such an impact is scarce. This study aimed to assess the association between exposure to green space and measures of cognitive development in primary schoolchildren. This study was based on 2,593 schoolchildren in the second to fourth grades (7-10 y) of 36 primary schools in Barcelona, Spain (2012-2013). Cognitive development was assessed as 12-mo change in developmental trajectory of working memory, superior working memory, and inattentiveness by using four repeated (every 3 mo) computerized cognitive tests for each outcome. We assessed exposure to green space by characterizing outdoor surrounding greenness at home and school and during commuting by using high-resolution (5 m × 5 m) satellite data on greenness (normalized difference vegetation index). Multilevel modeling was used to estimate the associations between green spaces and cognitive development. We observed an enhanced 12-mo progress in working memory and superior working memory and a greater 12-mo reduction in inattentiveness associated with greenness within and surrounding school boundaries and with total surrounding greenness index (including greenness surrounding home, commuting route, and school). Adding a traffic-related air pollutant (elemental carbon) to models explained 20-65% of our estimated associations between school greenness and 12-mo cognitive development. Our study showed a beneficial association between exposure to green space and cognitive development among schoolchildren that was partly mediated by reduction in exposure to air pollution.

KEYWORDS:

built environment; cognition; greenness; neurodevelopment; school

PMID:
26080420
PMCID:
PMC4491800
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1503402112
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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