UK: air pollution linked to teenage psychotic episodes

09 May 2019

Research from King’s College London has provided the first evidence of an association between air pollution and psychotic experiences in adolescence.


Published in JAMA Psychiatry, the study used data from 2232 children born in England and Wales who were assessed at age 18 for psychotic experiences. 

Hourly estimates of air pollution at 20-metre by 20-metre grid points throughout the UK allowed researchers to model exposure to air pollution over the course of a year.

Psychotic experiences were significantly more common among adolescents with the highest exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and very small particulate matter (PM2.5), even after accounting for known risk factors for psychosis. 

NO2 and NOx together accounted for 60% of the association between living in an urban environment and adolescent psychotic experiences, such as hearing voices.

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