Relationship between Air Pollution and Psychiatric Problems in Young People

Relationship between Air Pollution and Psychiatric Problems in Young People

The research revealed dispensed medication for psychiatric diagnosis in relation to air pollution concentrations.

SWEDEN – New research indicates the existence of a relationship between the rates of cases of mental illness in young people (serious enough to receive psychiatric medication by prescription) and the level of air pollution in their place of residence, produced by burning fossil fuels and other common anthropogenic sources.

The study, published in BMJ Open, was conducted by the team of Anna Oudin (University of Umea in Sweden) where they covered a large part of the Swedish population.

More and more studies show that the brain and human cognitive development are affected by pollution. In this study, Oudin and her colleagues analyzed the correlation between exposure to air pollution in residential areas and psychiatric health of children and adolescents.

The study was conducted by examining data records which are targeted drugs that are dispensed to all Swedes from the the Swedish National Registry, as well as data on the concentration of air pollution in each area.

The results show that as air pollution increased so did the risk of mental health. Overall, this risk increased by 9% if there was an increase of 10 micrograms per cubic meter of nitrogen dioxide concentration, compared with populations of less contaminated areas. The trend held true even after taking account socioeconomic and demographic factors.

According to Oudin, the results may imply that a lower concentration of air pollution, especially from traffic-related, could reduce psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents.

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