Residential exposure to urban traffic is associated with increased carotid intima-media thickness in children.
Chronic exposure to urban traffic pollution is documented to promote atherosclerosis in adults but little is known about its potential effects in children. Our study examined the association of long-term exposure to traffic with carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT) in 287 healthy children. Residential proximity and distance-weighted traffic density (DWTD) were used as proximity markers for traffic-related air pollution exposure. The multivariable analyses revealed that children residing <100 meters from the nearest heavily trafficked road had cIMT mean and maximum measurements that were increased by 15% and 11% compared to those living ≥ 200 meters away (P = 0.0001). Similar increases in cIMT were identified for children in the highest versus lowest DWTD tertile. Children who resided 100-199 meters from traffic or in the middle DWTD tertile also exhibited increased cIMT but these differences were not statistically significant. No statistically significant differences were identified between residential distance to traffic or DWTD and systemic inflammation indicators (CRP, IL-6). The study results suggest that exposure to urban traffic promotes arterial remodeling in children. This finding is important since even small increases in cIMT over time can potentially lead to earlier progression to atherosclerosis. It is also important because traffic-related pollution is potentially modifiable.
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