Poor air quality is associated with impaired visual cognition in the first two years of life: a longitudinal investigation

John P. Spencer, Samuel H. Forbes, Sophie Naylor, Vinay P. Singh, Kiara Jackson, Sean Deoni, Madhuri Tiwari, Aarti Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Poor air quality has been linked to cognitive deficits in children, but this relationship has not been examined in the first year of life when brain growth is at its peak.

Methods: We measured in-home air quality focusing on particulate matter with diameter of <2.5 μm (PM2.5) and infants’ cognition longitudinally in a sample of families from rural India.

Results: Air quality was poorer in homes that used solid cooking materials. Infants from homes with poorer air quality showed lower visual working memory scores at 6 and 9 months of age and slower visual processing speed from 6 to 21 months when controlling for family socio-economic status.

Conclusions: Thus, poor air quality is associated with impaired visual cognition in the first two years of life, consistent with animal studies of early brain development. We demonstrate for the first time an association between air quality and cognition in the first year of life using direct measures of in-home air quality and looking-based measures of cognition. Because indoor air quality was linked to cooking materials in the home, our findings suggest that efforts to reduce cooking emissions should be a key target for intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere83876
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2023


  • air quality
  • cognitive development
  • epidemiology
  • global health
  • human
  • infancy

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