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International Journal on Disability and Human Development

Official journal of the the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Israel

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Volume 11, Issue 4


Perinatal exposure to air pollutants had adverse effects on behavioral outcomes in mice

Farah Z. Dadabhoy / Pamela J. Maxson / Nicole Huff / Richard L. Auten
Published Online: 2012-10-18 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijdhd-2012-0057


Poverty and socioeconomic disadvantage are associated with environmental inequalities such as exposure to hazardous air pollutants. Children from low-income communities living in highly polluted cities tend to exhibit higher rates of depression, anxiety, and attention disorders. Early exposure to pollution may play a part in this trend. A postulated mechanism for this is that maternal exposure to traffic-related air pollutants can trigger an immune response in the mother. This inflammatory response can be transferred to the fetus via the placenta, with resultant effects on brain and lung inflammation. Our study used a murine model to examine the effects of prenatal and early postnatal toxin exposure on neurocognitive outcomes. Behavioral tests were conducted on cohorts treated with traffic-related air pollutants, ozone, and diesel, to assess if multiple agent exposures had synergistic effects on neurocognitive development. Animals exposed to the pollutants developed maladaptive responses later in life. Our findings show that perinatal brain development is susceptible to the toxic effects of air pollution. Despite the adverse effects of perinatal exposure on outcome, enriching the prenatal, postnatal, and childhood environments may break the cycle of disadvantage. Educational enrichment programs aimed at enhancing specific neurocognitive functions offer the opportunity to bridge disparities in mental health, academic achievement, and cognition and overcome the adverse environmental influences.

Keywords: air pollution; brain development; cytokine expression; diesel; environmental disparities; immune response; neurocognitive outcomes; ozone; perinatal exposure

About the article

Corresponding author: Farah Z. Dadabhoy, BS, 375 La Mirada Avenue, San Marino, CA 91108, USA

Received: 2011-08-20

Accepted: 2011-10-22

Published Online: 2012-10-18

Published in Print: 2012-11-01

Citation Information: , Volume 11, Issue 4, Pages 359–368, ISSN (Online) 2191-0367, ISSN (Print) 2191-1231, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijdhd-2012-0057.

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©2012 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston.Get Permission

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