Air pollution can cause short-term memory loss and lower IQ, claims a new study, increasing the risk of harmful impacts on the brains of children living in cities.
The study by University of Montana Professor Dr. Lilian Calderon-Garciduenas, MA, MD, Ph.D., and her team of researchers revealed that children with lifetime exposures to concentrations of air pollutants above the current U.S. standards, including fine particulate matter, faced an increased risk for brain inflammation and neurodegenerative changes, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.
The study found that clinically healthy children who live in a polluted environment and who also carry a gene - the apolipoprotein e4 allele, already known to increase a person's risk of developing Alzheimer's disease - demonstrated compromised cognitive responses when compared with children carrying a gene with apolipoprotein e3 allele.
Calderon-Garciduenas said that their results add to growing data suggesting e4 carriers could have a higher risk of developing early Alzheimer's disease if they reside in a polluted urban environment. It also raises concerns about important educational issues.
Since Mexico City children mostly attend underprovided public schools, children do not build cognitive reserves that serve as a defense to pollution impacts.
The authors argue that sustained exposures to urban air pollution result in cognitive underperformance and metabolic brain changes that could lead to an acceleration of neurodegenerative changes.
Calderon-Garciduenas said that there was a 50-year window of opportunity between the time urban children experience the detrimental effects and when they will present with mild cognitive impairment and dementia, and hence urgent action should be taken focusing on APOE e4 and air pollution interactions impacting children's brains, as their responses could provide new avenues toward the unprecedented opportunity for Alzheimer's disease prevention.
The paper titled can be found online at http://bit.ly/1ywtPqE.