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Many studies unequivocally indicate that air pollution is directly linked to the adverse cardiovascular outcomes in the general population. No data are currently available on cardiovascular effects of exposure to trafficked roads in healthy children. Distance of the residence to a major road has been shown to be a useful proxy for long-term traffic exposure and seem to be more consistently associated with atherosclerosis than particulate matter2.5. The aim of this study was to investigate a possible association between the distance to a major road and carotid arterial subclinical markers of atherosclerosis in a group of children in Italy.
The participants consisted of 52 healthy children living in a small town of the Amalphitan Coast with only one highly trafficked road. All children underwent an ultrasound carotid arterial examination.
A statistically significant difference was found in carotid arterial stiffness between children living closer to the main street and other children, both those living between 330 and 730 metres from the main street and those living more than 750 metres from the main street. No significant differences were detectable in carotid arterial thickness and arterial blood pressure among the three groups of children.
This study provides evidence in support of an association of exposure to air pollution with early atherosclerotic markers in healthy children. Impaired vascular health in childhood and adolescence gives further substance to the hypothesis that traffic exhausts are relevant to cardiovascular diseases even early in life.