Living Near Major Roads Puts Kids At Higher Risk Of Developmental Delays

family houses near busy roads

Parents looking to buy a new home might want to check out all of the major roads and highways before putting in their house bid. A new study suggests kids who live near major roads are at a higher risk of developmental delays. Children who live near major roadways or cross sections are twice as likely to score lower on their communication skills tests than those kids who live several blocks away from any major roads in their community.

The study was conducted by a team of researchers at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in association with the University of California in Merced.

The study appears in the journal, Environmental Research. The study’s results found that children living near major highways had poorer communication skills. One of the reasons behind this might be because of higher than normal levels of traffic-related pollutants that include ultra-fine airborne particles and the ozone.

The team of researchers looked at data collected from about 5,825 children who lived in New York State and outside of New York City. The parents of the kids filled out questionnaires that tracked their children’s developmental milestones from age 8 months to 3 years.

Some of the areas they looked at included physical and verbal milestones along with social developments. The scientists also used data from the New York Department of Transportation to estimate air pollution exposures in and around the New York City area.

Kids living near busy highways and intersections had a small but significantly higher level of developmental delays during infancy and their early childhood years. The children who lived about 500 meters away from a highway were more likely to fail the verbal and nonverbal communication parts of their exam, compared to kids who lived about 1,000 meters away.

According to Science Daily, Pauline Mendola, Ph.D., an investigator in the Division of Intramural Population Health Research at NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the study's senior author, said, “Our results suggest that it may be prudent to minimize exposure to air pollution during pregnancy, infancy, and early childhood -- all key periods for brain development.”

Previous studies have also linked exposure to traffic pollution to pregnancy complications and low birthweight.

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