HealthDay News — Environmental pollution appears to be associated with an increased risk for psychiatric disorders, especially bipolar disorder and major depression, according to a report published online Aug. 20 in PLOS Biology.

Atif Khan, PhD, from the University of Chicago, and colleagues examined the correlation between environmental pollution and risk for neuropsychiatric disorders in exploratory analyses of 2 large data sets: 151 million unique individuals from a US insurance claims database and 1.4 million unique individuals from the Danish national treatment registers. Six conditions (4 psychiatric and 2 neurological) were studied for the US cohort, and 4 were studied for the Denmark cohort.

The researchers found that poor air quality appears to be associataed with higher rates of bipolar disorder and major depression in both the United States and Denmark. In the Denmark population, the rate of all 4 psychiatric disorders (bipolar disorder, major depression, schizophrenia, and personality disorder) was higher with increasing levels of air pollution exposure in childhood.

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“Growing evidence from human, animal, and in vitro studies demonstrates that airborne pollutants target the brain and are implicated in neurological and psychiatric disorders etiology,” the authors write. “The patterns uncovered in our data underline the potential importance of the physical milieu to bipolar disorder and depression research.”

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