We know that pollution can affect our health negatively. It can increase risk of heart attacks, as well as cause lung diseases such as asthma. But those are not the only things that pollution can do: it can also affect brain development as well. These recent studies from USC show how air pollution affects the brains of children and older women.
The first study, published in Environment International, found that these fine particles — known as PM2.5 — may alter the size of a child’s developing brain, which may ultimately increase the risk for cognitive and emotional problems later in adolescence.
“At this young age, the neurons in children’s brains are expanding and pruning at an incredible rate. As your brain develops, it wants to create efficient pathways,” said lead author Megan Herting, an assistant professor at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “If these pathways are altered by PM2.5 exposure, and different parts of the brain are maturing and making connections at different rates, that might set you up for individual differences later on.”
The other research, on the other hand, shows that older women who are more exposed to pollution have smaller white matter in their brain, which could be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
Learn more details about these studies over at Neuroscience News.
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