Exposure to road traffic noise and risk for behavioral problems in 7-year old children: a cohort study

Regular paper

Dorrit Hjortebjerg

Danish Cancer Society Research Centre

Tuesday 2 june, 2015, 17:40 - 18:00

0.4 Brussels (189)

Background: Exposure to traffic noise has been associated with adverse effects on neuropsychological development in children, but findings with regard to behavioral problems are inconsistent. Objective: We investigated whether residential road traffic noise exposure is associated with behavioral problems in 7 year old children. Methods: We identified 46,940 children from a national birth cohort with complete information on behavioral problems at 7 years of age and complete address history from conception to 7 years of age. Road traffic noise (Lden) was modeled at all present and historical addresses. Behavioral problems were assessed by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Associations between pregnancy and childhood exposure to noise and behavioral problems were analyzed by logistic regression and adjusted for potential confounders. Results: For mean time-weighted exposure from birth to 7 years of age, a 10 dB higher road traffic noise was associated with a 7 % higher risk for scoring abnormal (95 % CI: 1.00-1.14) compared to normal scores on the total difficulties score. Also, a 5 % higher risk for scoring borderline (95 % CI: 1.00-1.10) and a 9 % higher risk for scoring abnormal (95 % CI: 1.02-1.17) were found on the hyperactivity/inattention subscale. Exposure to road traffic noise during pregnancy was not associated with child behavioral problems at 7 years of age. Conclusions: Residential road traffic noise in early childhood may increase the risk for behavioral problems, particularly hyperactivity/inattention symptoms. More studies are needed to understand the mechanism through which traffic noise affects children’s behavior.

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