As revealed by a study conducted by researchers from the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) of the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University and the Irving Medical Center of Columbia University published in the journal Environmental Research , the Children exposed to elevated levels of air pollution may be more likely to have poor inhibitory control during late childhood and poor academic skills in early adolescence , including spelling, reading comprehension, and math skills.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
The study followed 200 children enrolled in a longitudinal cohort study in northern Manhattan and the Bronx led by researchers from CCCEH. The researchers collected measurements of airborne polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs, a major component of air pollution) during the third trimester of pregnancy, a period when the fetus is highly vulnerable to environmental stresses.
Inhibitory control tests were administered around age 10 and academic achievement tests around age 13.
As explained by first author Amy Margolis , associate professor of medical psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Irving Medical Center:
Children with poor inhibitory control are less able to override a common response in favor of a more unusual one, such as the natural response of saying ‘up’ when an arrow is facing up or ‘go’ when a light is green, and in instead say ‘get off’ or ‘stop’. By compromising inhibitory control of childhood, prenatal exposure to air pollution can alter the foundation on which later academic skills are built. When assessing students’ learning disabilities and formulating treatment plans, parents and teachers should consider that academic problems related to environmental exposures may require intervention focused on inhibitory control problems, rather than skill deficiencies. content related.