WEDNESDAY, Oct. 11, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Children from families with low incomes and families of color are exposed to more neurotoxic chemicals and experience greater harm, according to a review published online Sept. 27 in Environmental Health Perspectives.
Devon C. Payne-Sturges, Dr.P.H., from the University of Maryland in College Park, and colleagues conducted a scoping review to map existing literature on disparities in neurodevelopmental outcomes for U.S. children from population groups who have been historically economically/socially marginalized and exposed to seven exemplar neurotoxicants.
Based on data from 218 included studies, the researchers found that combustion-related air pollution and lead were the most commonly studied exposures, and the most frequently identified neurodevelopmental outcomes were cognitive and behavioral/psychological. Low-income and Black children had higher lead exposures, while children in communities of color and low-income communities were more highly exposed to air pollution. Greater impacts to brain development were seen for those children experiencing high exposures. For example, low socioeconomic status magnified the negative effects of lead exposure on children’s cognitive function, and air pollution exposures were associated with more adverse Performance IQ scores among children from lower-income families.
“As a whole, the studies we reviewed indicated a complex story about how racial and ethnic minority and low-income children may be disproportionately harmed by exposures to neurotoxicants, and this has implications for targeting interventions, policy change, and other necessary investments to eliminate these health disparities,” the authors write.
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