Serious air pollution can quickly degrade children’s brains
Nowadays, in heavily polluted areas such as Mexico and Asia, many people choose to wear masks. In the world’s major cities, including Mexico City, Jakarta, New Delhi, Beijing, Los Angeles, Paris, and London, humans are polluting the air at a rate that the Earth cannot afford.
Most people think that air pollution is like dust, as small as the hair diameter (particulate matter), or even smaller (ultrafine particles). It is well known that respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma are associated with air pollution. About 1 million children die of pneumonia each year, and more than half of them are directly related to air pollution.
The volume of the particles is very small and can enter the bloodstream from the lungs and enter the brain through blood circulation. In such cases, inflammation of the brain can occur, leading to loss of cells in the central nervous system and possibly increasing the risk of dementia such as neurodegenerative diseases, cognitive deficits, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Although aging can cause mild neurodegenerative diseases, severe air pollution can accelerate the deterioration of nerve cell inflammation. To make matters worse, such severe air pollution accelerates neurodegeneration at the peak of brain development (childhood).
This is indeed the case. Today, millions of children around the world breathe polluted air, which may expose them to premature cognitive deficits and the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. This is the status quo that we continue to damage the child’s brain and shorten its life.
Unexplained cause of child death
In the late 1990s, neuropathologist and paediatrician Lilian Calderón-Garcidueña published a report stating that early signs of neurodegeneration were associated with air pollution by testing the brain tissue of adults, children and dogs that were “accidentally” dead and of unknown cause. .
These brain organizations have one thing in common – they all live in Mexico City, one of the most polluted cities in the world.
Further research shows that there is often a rather serious situation in scientific reports. In diseased animals and humans, their unhealthy brain slice microscopic images show that tiny black spots surrounded by inflamed tissue are particles and ultrafine particles. Around the inflamed spots, you sometimes see streaks similar to scars, and you can see pink stems. These are the common amyloid plaques in the brain after death in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. I joined Lilian’s team as an expert in cognitive development neuroscience and neuroimaging. We use behavioral tests and shoot images of the target brain area to explore signs of precocious cognitive deficits in humans.
Children’s brain cognitive ability is significantly reduced
We found that the cognitive abilities of children in Mexico City decreased significantly compared to the normal population and other children with similar age, gender, family and neighborhood backgrounds living in less polluted areas. We can identify abnormal cognitive deficits in key brain development areas, the prefrontal, temporal, and parietal lobes of the cerebral cortex. We also found atypical cognitive phenomena in the auditory brainstem, which may be related to language developmental disorders. Children’s neuroimaging is consistent with the most severe damage in the white matter, and white matter provides a conductive communication link. We can prove that in many cases, the symptoms of neuroinflammation in children in Mexico City are much more serious than in children. Today, consistency can be drawn from similar findings in other large cities or other researchers: air pollution damages the brains of millions of children, so protecting them is critical to public health.
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