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Environ Res. 2019 Jun;173:199-206. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2019.03.005. Epub 2019 Mar 2.

lifetime exposure to traffic-related air pollution and symptoms of depression and anxiety at age 12 years.

Author information

1
Division of General and Community Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, United States. Electronic address: kimbely.yolton@cchmc.org.
2
Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, United States.
3
Division of Asthma Research, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, United States.
4
Department of Environmental Health, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, United States.
5
Department of Radiology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, United States.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

While air pollution has been associated with depression and anxiety in adults, its impact on childhood mental health is understudied.

OBJECTIVE:

We examined lifetime exposure to traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) and symptoms of depression and anxiety at age 12 years in the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study cohort.

METHODS:

We estimated exposure to elemental carbon attributable to traffic (ECAT), a surrogate of diesel exhaust, at birth, age 12 years, and average exposure throughout childhood, using a validated land use regression model. We assessed depression and anxiety at age 12 years by parent report with the Behavior Assessment System for Children-2, and by child report with the Child Depression Inventory-2 (CDI-2) and the Spence Children's Anxiety Scale (SCAS). Associations between TRAP at birth, age 12 years, and childhood average and mental health outcomes were estimated using linear regression models adjusting for covariates including parent depression, secondhand smoke exposure, race, household income, and others.

RESULTS:

Exposure to ECAT was not significantly associated with parent-reported depression or anxiety. However, exposure to ECAT at birth was associated with increased child-reported depression and anxiety. Each 0.25 µg/m3 increase in ECAT was associated with a 3.5 point increase (95% CI 1.6-5.5) in CDI-2 scores and 2.3 point increase (95% CI 0.8-3.9) in SCAS total anxiety scores. We observed similar associations between average childhood ECAT exposures but not for concurrent exposures at age 12.

CONCLUSIONS:

TRAP exposure during early life and across childhood was significantly associated with self-reported depression and anxiety symptoms in children. The negative impact of air pollution on mental health previously reported among adults may also be present during childhood.

KEYWORDS:

Air pollution; Anxiety; Child mental health; Depression; Exposure

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