Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
May 04, 2021
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Air pollution exposure associated with elevated BP in children, adolescents

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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Among children and adolescents, exposure to short- and long-term high air pollution levels during childhood increased the likelihood of having high BP later in life, researchers reported.

“Previous studies have found that the lungs of children may be exposed to higher concentrations of ambient particles than adults, suggesting that children would be at greater risk from the adverse effects of air pollution,” Miao Huang, MD, from the Center of Clinical Pharmacology at the Third Xiangya Hospital at Central South University in Changsha, China, and colleagues wrote in the Journal of the American Heart Association. “Recent epidemiological studies have evaluated the effect of short-term and long-term exposure to air pollutants on BP values among children and adolescents. However, the results are not consistent.”

Air Pollution from smoke stacks
Source: Adobe Stock

Researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 14 air pollution cross-section and cohort studies globally with 351,766 participants (mean age, 5.4-12.7 years) that were published before September 2020. Studies were categorized into groups by composition of air pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter up to 10 m (PM10) or up to 2.5 m (PM2.5), and length of exposure to those pollutants.

Researchers observed a significant association between short-term exposure to PM10 and elevated systolic BP values (beta coefficient = 0.267; 95% CI, 0.033-0.501) with every 10 g/m3 increase. Long-term exposure to PM2.5 (beta coefficient = 1.809; 95% CI, 0.962-2.655), PM10 (beta coefficient = 0.526; 95% CI, 0.095-0.958) and nitrogen dioxide (beta coefficient = 0.754; 95% CI, 0.541-0.968) were all associated with elevated systolic BP values. Long-term PM2.5 exposure (beta coefficient = 0.931; 95% CI, 0.157-1.705) and long-term PM10 exposure (beta coefficient = 0.378; 95% CI, 0.022-0.735) were both associated with elevated diastolic BP.

There was no statistically significant association between diastolic BP values and short-term exposure to PM2.5 (beta coefficient = 0.107; 95% CI, –1.036 to 0.823) or PM10 (beta coefficient = 0.215; 95% CI, –0.07 to 0.5).

“Our findings raise concerns for the health of children and adolescents in areas with high air pollution, by providing evidence toward a positive association between both short-term and long-term exposure to some ambient air pollutants and blood pressure among children and adolescents,” the researchers wrote.

Yao Lu, MD, PhD, professor of the Clinical Research Center at the Third Xiangya Hospital at Central South University in Changsha, China, and professor in the department of life science and medicine at King’s College London, said in a press release: “To reduce the impact of environmental pollution on blood pressure in children and adolescents, efforts should be made to reduce their exposure to environmental pollutants. Additionally, it is also very important to routinely measure blood pressure in children and adolescents, which can help us identify individuals with elevated blood pressure early.”