Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Auto Exhaust and Brain Development

Posted by The Vigilant Mom on May 17, 2012

Auto Exhaust and Brain Development

We live near a freeway in a city with pretty bad traffic. We don’t live super close to the freeway, but I can see it off in the distance and in the back of my mind, I have always been a little worried about all of the nasty chemicals in exhaust. A few years ago, I bought an air purifier for my kids’ room. At the time, I conceded to friends that maybe I was paranoid, but it just made me feel a teeny bit better when I’d gaze out at distant gridlock. After reading about new studies that link vehicle exhaust to neurological disorders, I’m considering hitting Home Depot this week and get an air purifier for every room in our house.

My big fear, of course, was my kids developing asthma and lung problems. But exhaust from cars also has been linked to cardiovascular problems and various cancers — and now, possibly, to neurological damage as well. Researchers have found that exposure to high levels of exhaust can result in problems with intelligence, mental functioning and emotional issues. In fact, it has even been linked to an increased risk for autism. According to researchers, women who live within 1,000 feet of a freeway have a two times greater risk of having children who have autism.

The problem for expectant moms is that a lot of what they breathe in passes to their developing baby. One doctor studied the air that pregnant women breathed and found that in some women, chemicals from exhaust had left “biochemical markers” in their baby’s DNA. And children who are exposed to higher levels of exhaust seem to score lower on tests and develop more problems with mood disorders like depression and anxiety. They also seem to have a harder time focusing and display symptoms of attention disorders.

So it seems exhaust from cars might be one more thing for moms to worry about. (Sigh.) If you live in an area with a lot of traffic or near a freeway, you might want to consider investing in at least one air purifier. The studies linking exhaust to neurological development are new and certainly more studies should be done, but cleaner air is still a great gift to give your child — and yourself.

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