Psychotic experiences in young people are linked to air pollution

March 28, 2019 6:24 PM |

Air Pollution Art

According to a study, the young generation living with higher levels of air pollution are more likely to have psychotic experiences. Researchers analyzed the experiences of more than 2,000, 17-year old people across England and Wales.

As per the research, people living in places with higher levels of nitrogen oxides had a 70% higher chance of symptoms, such as hearing voices or intense paranoia.

This new work suggests toxic air is one potential reason, as people growing up in cities were already known to have more psychotic experiences than those outside urban areas.

Psychotic experiences are much more common in youngsters than in adults, but those having these indications when young are more likely to develop serious mental illnesses later. With more people around the world living in cities every year, scientists are particularly keen to uncover the reasons for mental ill health in urban centers.

The study considered other potential causes of psychotic experiences, such as smoking, alcohol and cannabis use, family income and psychiatric history, and measures of neighborhood deprivation.

The research leader said that Nitrogen oxides explained about 60% of the association between urban living and psychotic experiences. Nitrogen oxides come largely from diesel vehicles and are at illegal levels in most British cities and towns.

Research is linking air pollution with an increasing range of ill health, including reduced intelligence, dementia and depression, while other work has revealed air pollution can reach the brain.

A third of the young people lived in urban areas, with one fifth being rural and the rest suburban. Overall, 30% of the young people reported at least one psychotic experience, a rate considered normal for teenage years. But psychotic experiences were significantly more common among teens living in the top 25% most polluted places.

However, they said that while this first study provided good evidence, it was important other studies were done to confirm the findings.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

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