Use of Certain Cooking Fuels May Impact Visual Processing Speeds in Infants
Air pollution has already been linked to cognitive issues in children, but a new international study published in Epidemiology and Global Health claims to be the first to examine the effects in a child’s first year of life, when, according to the study, “brain growth is at its peak.”
The study targeted rural infants in India, focusing on tiny, in-home particulate matter named for its size (PM2.5). Researchers looked at the impact of using “solid cooking fuel,” such as cow dung or wood, in homes with very young children. Visual testing showed lower-than-expected “visual working memory” scores and slower “visual processing speed” scores in children’s first year of life.
The authors said their results suggested links between indoor air quality, cooking fuels, and babies’ neurocognitive health. Their recommendations included helping families upgrade their homes to “clean technologies” and receive education on how to prepare meals while reducing cooking emissions.