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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Mar 12;116(11):5188-5193. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1807504116. Epub 2019 Feb 25.

Residential green space in childhood is associated with lower risk of psychiatric disorders from adolescence into adulthood.

Author information

1
Section for Ecoinformatics & Biodiversity, Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark; engemann@bios.au.dk.
2
Center for Biodiversity Dynamics in a Changing World, Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.
3
Centre for Integrated Register-based Research, Aarhus University, 8210 Aarhus V, Denmark.
4
National Centre for Register-based Research, School of Business and Social Sciences, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University, 8210 Aarhus V, Denmark.
5
The Lundbeck Foundation Initiative for Integrative Psychiatric Research, Aarhus University, 8210 Aarhus V, Denmark.
6
Center for Massive Data Algorithmics, Department of Computer Science, Aarhus University, 8200 Aarhus N, Denmark.
7
Section for Ecoinformatics & Biodiversity, Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.

Abstract

Urban residence is associated with a higher risk of some psychiatric disorders, but the underlying drivers remain unknown. There is increasing evidence that the level of exposure to natural environments impacts mental health, but few large-scale epidemiological studies have assessed the general existence and importance of such associations. Here, we investigate the prospective association between green space and mental health in the Danish population. Green space presence was assessed at the individual level using high-resolution satellite data to calculate the normalized difference vegetation index within a 210 × 210 m square around each person's place of residence (∼1 million people) from birth to the age of 10. We show that high levels of green space presence during childhood are associated with lower risk of a wide spectrum of psychiatric disorders later in life. Risk for subsequent mental illness for those who lived with the lowest level of green space during childhood was up to 55% higher across various disorders compared with those who lived with the highest level of green space. The association remained even after adjusting for urbanization, socioeconomic factors, parental history of mental illness, and parental age. Stronger association of cumulative green space presence during childhood compared with single-year green space presence suggests that presence throughout childhood is important. Our results show that green space during childhood is associated with better mental health, supporting efforts to better integrate natural environments into urban planning and childhood life.

KEYWORDS:

geographic information systems; mental health; psychological ecosystem services; remote sensing; urban planning

PMID:
30804178
PMCID:
PMC6421415
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1807504116
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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