Children with green spaces around schools have better lung function

in News · 24-12-2019 10:00:00 · 0 Comments

A study by the Institute of Public Health at the University of Porto (ISPUP) concluded that children who have around their schools green spaces “have a better lung function,” said the researcher in charge.

Speaking to Lusa agency, Inês Paciência, a researcher at ISPUP, explained that the study aimed to evaluate the influence of spaces around schools on children's autonomic nervous system activity and, consequently, on pulmonary function.

"We wanted to assess how the environment, namely the use and characterization of the space around schools, was related to the children's respiratory system," she said.

The study, published in the journal 'Scientific Reports', assessed, through questionnaires and clinical examinations, the respiratory system of 701 children, aged 9 to 12, from 20 primary schools in the city of Porto.

“We chose 20 primary and public schools in Porto that were representative of the school buildings,” said Inês Paciência, adding that the analysis took into account spaces at a distance of 500 metres from each school.

“The spaces around schools were relatively different, some were characterized by a greater presence of green areas and others by built-up areas, such as building areas, residential areas, leisure and commerce spaces, industries and roads,” she said.

After relating data from the children's respiratory system and the spaces around the schools, the researchers concluded that “better lung function was associated with greater presence of green spaces”.

“We concluded that the presence of green spaces around schools was associated with an improvement in lung function and this improvement was mediated by the function of the autonomic nervous system,” said Inês Paciência, adding that “23 percent to 24 percent of the green spaces showed an improvement in the respiratory system” of the children.

To Lusa, Inês Patience said that the conclusions of this study show the “need to build more green areas around schools”.

"It is necessary to develop a set of recommendations that increase the contact of children with these green areas, in order to promote health improvement and reduce the costs associated with more urban exposure," she concluded.

The team of researchers responsible for the study, developed under the project “ARIA: How air quality can influence asthma and allergy in children”, now aims to “study how the urban environment changes the micro-biome of children”.


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