– EN Fitness & Wellbeing – Children who grow up near busy streets are more likely to struggle to communicate in infancy and early childhood, new research has found.
Researchers from Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) have sampled young people’s ability to interpret direction and produce speech back to parents, with a method that is commonly used to track development during early years.
The study found that youngsters who live in close-proximity to high-traffic roads, such as interstates and highways, were twice as likely to score lower on tests of communication skills.
The researchers claimed that exposure to air pollution and other harmful particles from exhaust systems could be to blame for the delay, and they also suggested that exposure in the womb was associated with a higher likelihood of delays in motor skills, such as hand-eye coordination, crawling and walking.
Reflecting on the findings, senior author of the study, Dr. Pauline Mendola said that although the findings were not conclusive, they should encourage parents to limit exposure to air pollution.
“If you have young children, do you want to ride your bike with your children in a carrier on a major road? It’s something to think about,” she told Mail Online. ‘We are learning more and more about how the environment influences development and it merits attention of wondering: ‘Can we do things to make it better?'”
Dr. Mendola went on to explain that while the changes may be obvious, taking necessary precautions can have a significant impact all round.
“That would mean trying to avoid exposure to major roadways,” she concluded. “A healthy environment that is healthy for kids is healthy for everyone.”