In 2019, our research programme provided new information on the effects of environmental exposures on childhood health. We found that early-life exposure to air pollution was related to mild thyroid dysfunction throughout pregnancy (1) and to an impairment of several cognitive functions including working memory, attentional function, memory, verbal and general cognition (2, 3). Furthermore, prenatal exposure to air pollution was associated with a decrease in volume of the corpus callosum (which connects the two sides of the brain), which in turn is associated with an increased risk of hyperactivity (4). We showed that environmental and other risk factors, including air pollution, second-hand smoke exposure and obesity, may accelerate the biological aging process as measured by telomere length of white blood cells, from early life onwards (5-7).
We have extended our research to low- and middle-income countries by conducting studies on the effects of green spaces and air pollution in Iran. Health effects analysed include ovarian reserves in women, foetal growth, renal function, lipid profile, stress hormones and molecular markers of ageing in preschool children (8-10).