British children with intellectual disabilities are more likely than their peers to live in areas with high outdoor air pollution, according to a new Journal of Intellectual Disability Research study funded by Public Health England.
The findings come from an analysis of data extracted from the UK’s Millennium Cohort Study, a nationally representative sample of more than 18,000 UK children born in 2000 to 2002.
Averaging across ages, children with intellectual disabilities were 33% more likely to live in areas with high levels of diesel particulate matter, 30% more likely to live in areas with high levels of nitrogen dioxide, 30% more likely to live in areas with high levels of carbon monoxide, and 17% more likely to live in areas with high levels of sulfur dioxide.
The authors note that intellectual disability is more common among children living in more socio-economically deprived areas, which tend to have higher levels of air pollution; however, exposure to outdoor air pollution may impede cognitive development, thereby increasing the risk of intellectual disability.
E. Emerson, J. Robertson, C. Hatton and S. Baines (2018) “Risk of exposure to air pollution among British children with and without intellectual disabilities”JIDR doi: 10.1111/jir.12561