Higher air pollution exposure in early life is associated with worse health among older adults: A 72-year follow-up study from Scotland

Gergő Baranyi, Lee Williamson, Zhiqiang Feng, Edward Carnell, Massimo Vieno, Chris Dibben

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Air pollution increases the risk of mortality and morbidity. However, limited evidence exists on the very long-term associations between early life air pollution exposure and health, as well as on potential pathways. This study explored the relationship between fine particle (PM2.5) exposure at age 3 and limiting long-term illness (LLTI) at ages 55, 65 and 75 using data from the Scottish Longitudinal Study Birth Cohort 1936, a representative administrative cohort study. We found that early life PM2.5 exposure was associated with higher odds of LLTI in mid-to-late adulthood (OR = 1.10, 95% CI: 1.06, 1.14 per 10 μg m−3 increment) among the 2085 participants, with stronger associations among those growing up in disadvantaged families. Path analyses suggested that 15–21% of the association between early life PM2.5 concentrations and LLTI at age 65 (n = 1406) was mediated through childhood cognitive ability, educational qualifications, and adult social position. Future research should capitalise on linked administrative and health data, and explore causal mechanisms between environment and specific health conditions across the life course.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103208
JournalHealth & Place
Volume86
Early online date16 Feb 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2024

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