A study published in Nature Scientific Reports suggests that early exposure to air pollution in children aged 6 to 8 can have a significant impact on their adult health. Although many studies and investigations have been conducted on the risk of air pollution, this is the first study to investigate cardiovascular control disorders and immune system gene mutations in children.
This study suggests that strong and continuous air purification efforts are needed for future generations as well as medical clues.
Fine dust threatens children's health
As the temperature rises, we hear good news about flowers, but air pollution from fine dust is also becoming more severe. In these days, air pollution is high, while the air diffusion index is low, and ultrafine dust forecasts with a diameter of 2.5㎛ or less are frequent, threatening our health.
It is already known that air pollution is fatal to the human body. This is because fine dust particles mixed in the air cause lung disease, stroke, and heart disease.
Is the health of a child exposed to this harmful air really okay?
WHO reports that 93% of the world's children, or about 1.8 billion children, breathe harmful air that endangers their health and development, and this causes more than 25% of children in developed countries to develop diseases related to immune system disorders caused by exposure to air pollution. I estimated that I was sick.
A recent study supporting this was published by a research team at Stanford University Professor Mary Pruniki.
Prof. Fruniki said that children who are exposed to air pollution early can cause genetic mutations, which can increase the incidence of cardiovascular disease in adulthood.
Immune regulation gene mutation possible due to air pollution
The study used mass spectrometry to analyze immune system cells in a group of children aged 6 to 8 years old living in Fresno, California, where air pollution levels in the United States are the highest.
Professor Fruniki, who was in charge of the research, revealed that the study yielded several significant results.
First, ultrafine dust (PM 2.5), carbon monoxide (CO), and ozone (O3) are responsible for the methylation of genes involved in immune regulation, that is, altering the activity of genes without changing the DNA sequence. In particular, it was demonstrated that air pollution is a major factor in the methylation of CpG sites including immunoregulatory genes IL-4, IL-10, Foxp3 and IFNg.
Previous studies have already revealed that adolescents' exposure to air pollution increases methylation of the CpG site, which is a potential factor for exacerbation of asthma and epigenetic changes in some genes.
Prof. Fruniki said that this study targets younger children than the previous study, so exposure to air pollution is prolonged, and the accumulation of pollutants in the body may affect health in adulthood.
Possible heart and cardiovascular disease due to air pollution
The researchers also found that monocytes, which play a key role in the accumulation of plaque in the arteries, are affected by acute exposure to air pollution. Fine dust and soot convert single cells in the blood into inflammatory dendritic cells, causing related diseases.
Prof. Fruniki replaced the findings and revealed that although it was not as consistent as the methylation of the gene, blood pressure was also related to air pollution. In particular, diastolic blood pressure was directly related to long-term exposure to CO, and children who were acutely exposed to CO for 3 months had a diastolic blood pressure of 7.25 mmHg lower than that of average exposed children. On the other hand, although significant results were not measured for systolic blood pressure, it was expected to find clinical interventions for aortic stiffness and blood pressure-related diseases that occurred in adulthood.
She added that the study is only a comprehensive picture of the effects of air pollution on children's health, and that follow-up and research over a longer period of time are needed.