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Alzheimer’s Disease symptoms found in 11-month-old babies in polluted cities

Alzheimer’s Disease is found among children as young as 11-month-old babies living in polluted cities, researchers said in a new study. The results stress how important it is to reduce air pollution.

health Updated: Apr 20, 2018 12:39 IST
Sanya Panwar
Sanya Panwar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Air Polluion,Environmental Pollution,Alzheimer Disease
Alzheimer’s Disease is a neurological disorder in which the death of brain cells causes memory loss and cognitive decline. (Shutterstock)

Alzheimer’s Disease may begin far earlier than we thought. A study has found that living in cities with high air pollution puts children younger than even one-year-old at risk for Alzheimer’s.

Researchers led by Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas, a professor in the department of biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Montana, examined the autopsies of 203 residents of Mexico City and published their findings in Environmental Research. The respondents’ age ranged from 11 months to 40 years. Medical News Today defines Alzheimer’s disease as a neurological disorder in which the death of brain cells causes memory loss and cognitive decline.

The researchers specifically looked at levels of two abnormal proteins associated with Alzheimer’s Disease — hyperphosphorylated tau and beta amyloid. Many of the bodies displayed heightened levels of these two proteins in the brain, even in children less than a year old. Evidence of early signs of Alzheimer’s disease was found in 99.5% of the subjects examined.

These results stress how important it is to reduce air pollution, Calderón-Garcidueñas told Newsweek in an interview. While some disease risk factors are not modifiable, such as genetic disposition, air pollution is.

“Air pollution control has to be prioritized,” Calderón-Garcidueñas said, adding, “Pollution is serious (and) chronic, people are exposed from conception to death.”

The study theorised that exposure to air pollution may be behind these heightened abnormal protein levels in young brains. Children exposed to cleaner air performed better in various categories, including cognitive performance, said Dr Calderón-Garcidueñas.

Calderón-Garcidueñas, who also collaborates with Universidad del Valle de Mexico, compared children by age, gender, socioeconomic status, the IQ of their mother, nutrition and education.

While this study cannot prove that air pollution directly leads to brain damage, it adds to an increasing pool of research that suggests a correlation.

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First Published: Apr 20, 2018 12:36 IST