Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease have been found in infants less than a year old in Mexico City, suggesting that the disease takes shape in early years of life as well. The new findings were published in journal Environmental Research on Wednesday.
A team lead by Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas at the University of Montana studied the autopsies of 203 residents of Mexico City between the age groups of 11 months and 40 years. The main area of study were the levels of two proteins strongly connected to Alzheimer’s: hyperphosphorylated tau and beta-amyloid. The researchers found that level of both the proteins were above-normal levels in almost all the autopsies including that of the 11-month-old infant. The beta-amyloid buildup in the brain has been associated in patients with Alzheimer’s over the age of 65.
The study also concluded that the elevated levels of the two proteins are directly related to environmental factors. Exposure to fine-particulate-matter pollution and the thick sheet of smog, that is found in Mexico City and other parts of the world as well, contributed to triggering the symptoms. Mexico City residents have lifetime exposures to PM2.5 and O3 above the set United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) standards.
In an interview with Newsweek, lead researcher Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas said that Children exposed to cleaner air performed better in various categories, including cognitive performance. However, it is to be mentioned that there was just one 11-month-old infant in the sample. Garcidueñas in her previous has found the correlation between air pollution and mental illness.