Abstract

Green space, air pollution, and traffic noise exposure may be associated with stress levels in children. A flattened diurnal cortisol slope (the decline in cortisol concentrations from awakening to evening) is an indicator of chronic stress. We examined associations of green space, ambient air pollution, and traffic noise with the diurnal cortisol slope in children 12 years of age.

Methods: At age 12 years, 1,027 participants of the Dutch PIAMA birth cohort collected three saliva samples during 1 day. We estimated residential exposure to green space (i.e., the average Normalized Difference Vegetation Index [NDVI] and percentages of green space in circular buffers of 300 m and 3,000 m), air pollution, and traffic noise. Associations of these exposures with the diurnal cortisol slope (in nmol/L per hour) were assessed by multiple linear regression, adjusting for potential confounders.

Results: Higher average NDVI and total percentage of green space in a 3,000 m buffer were associated with a larger diurnal decrease in cortisol levels (adjusted difference [95% confidence interval] = -0.11 nmol/L/hr [-0.21, 0.00 nmol/L/hr] per interquartile range increase in the average NDVI; -0.13 nmol/L/hr [-0.26, 0.00 nmol/L/hr] per interquartile range increase in the total percentage of green space). These associations were largely driven by associations with the percentage of agricultural green space and by associations in children living in nonurban areas. We observed no relationships between air pollution or traffic noise and the diurnal cortisol slope.

Conclusions: Residential exposure to green space in a buffer of 3,000 m may be associated with lower stress levels in children 12 years of age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
JournalEnvironmental Epidemiology
Volume5
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

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