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Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2016 Sep - Oct;57:60-70. doi: 10.1016/j.ntt.2016.06.008. Epub 2016 Jun 25.

Prenatal and childhood traffic-related air pollution exposure and childhood executive function and behavior.

Author information

1
Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA. Electronic address: mariaharris@berkeley.edu.
2
Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA; Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.
3
Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Boston, MA, USA.
4
Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.
5
Department of Biostatistics, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.
6
Department of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Medical Statistics, University of Athens Medical School, Athens, Greece.
7
Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA; The Department of Geography and Environmental Development, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel.
8
Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA; Department of Neurology, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
9
Division of Newborn Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
10
Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.
11
Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA; Center for Environmental Research and Children's Health, School of Public Health, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Traffic-related air pollution exposure may influence brain development and function and thus be related to neurobehavioral problems in children, but little is known about windows of susceptibility.

AIMS:

Examine associations of gestational and childhood exposure to traffic-related pollution with executive function and behavior problems in children.

METHODS:

We studied associations of pre- and postnatal pollution exposures with neurobehavioral outcomes in 1212 children in the Project Viva pre-birth cohort followed to mid-childhood (median age 7.7years). Parents and classroom teachers completed the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF) and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Using validated spatiotemporal models, we estimated exposure to black carbon (BC) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the third trimester of pregnancy, from birth to 3years, from birth to 6years, and in the year before behavioral ratings. We also measured residential distance to major roadways and near-residence traffic density at birth and in mid-childhood. We estimated associations of BC, PM2.5, and other traffic exposure measures with BRIEF and SDQ scores, adjusted for potential confounders.

RESULTS:

Higher childhood BC exposure was associated with higher teacher-rated BRIEF Behavioral Regulation Index (BRI) scores, indicating greater problems: 1.0 points (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.0, 2.1) per interquartile range (IQR) increase in birth-age 6BC, and 1.7 points (95% CI: 0.6, 2.8) for BC in the year prior to behavioral ratings. Mid-childhood residential traffic density was also associated with BRI score (0.6, 95% CI: 0.1, 1.1). Birth-age 3BC was not associated with BRIEF or SDQ scores. Third trimester BC exposure was not associated with teacher-rated BRI scores (-0.2, 95% CI: -1.1, 0.8), and predicted lower scores (fewer problems) on the BRIEF Metacognition Index (-1.2, 95% CI: -2.2, -0.2) and SDQ total difficulties (-0.9, 95% CI: -1.4, -0.4). PM2.5 exposure was associated with teacher-rated BRIEF and SDQ scores in minimally adjusted models but associations attenuated with covariate adjustment. None of the parent-rated outcomes suggested adverse effects of greater pollution exposure at any time point.

CONCLUSIONS:

Children with higher mid-childhood exposure to BC and greater near-residence traffic density in mid-childhood had greater problems with behavioral regulation as assessed by classroom teachers, but not as assessed by parents. Prenatal and early childhood exposure to traffic-related pollution did not predict greater executive function or behavior problems; third trimester BC was associated with lower scores (representing fewer problems) on measures of metacognition and behavioral problems.

KEYWORDS:

Air pollution; Black carbon; Executive function; Neurodevelopment; Traffic

PMID:
27350569
PMCID:
PMC5056808
DOI:
10.1016/j.ntt.2016.06.008
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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