A new study has found that British children with intellectual disabilities are more likely than their peers to live in areas with high outdoor air pollution.
Published in the Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, the study’s findings come from an analysis of data from the U.K.’s Millennium Cohort Study, a nationally representative sample of more than 18,000 children born in 2000 to 2002.
Researchers discovered that children with intellectual disabilities were 33 percent more likely to live in areas with high levels of diesel particulate matter, 30 percent more likely to live in areas with high levels of nitrogen dioxide, 30 percent more likely to live in areas with high levels of carbon monoxide, and 17 percent more likely to live in areas with high levels of sulfur dioxide.
The researchers noted that intellectual disability is more common among children living in more socioeconomically deprived areas, which tend to have higher levels of air pollution. However, they add that exposure to outdoor air pollution may impede cognitive development, increasing the risk of intellectual disability.
“We know that people with intellectual disabilities in the U.K. have poorer health and die earlier than they should,” said lead author Dr. Eric Emerson of the University of Sydney in Australia. “This research adds another piece to the jigsaw of understanding why that is the case and what needs to be done about it.”