Children who live and study near green spaces have lower oxidative stress, study finds

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A new study has found that when children have greater exposure to green space, they have lower levels of oxidative stress – regardless of the children’s physical activity.

The research, published in the journal Environmental Research, and conducted by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) investigated the relationship between exposure to different green spaces and oxidative stress in children.

Researchers evaluated 323 healthy children aged 8 to 11 years from five primary schools in Asti, Italy. The children’s parents filled out a questionnaire providing the residential address, parental education, and physical activity frequency. Oxidative stress was quantified in spot urine by isoprostane (15-F2t-IsoP) using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) technique. Residential and scholastic greenness were defined by the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). Multisite exposures were obtained accounting for NDVI around the children’s homes and schools, weighted for the time spent in each location.

The study concluded that higher exposure to green spaces relates consistently to lower oxidative stress levels in children; and the observed associations are not mediated by physical activity.

“Increased exposure to these areas may contribute to children’s immune development by bringing them into contact with organisms that tend to colonize natural environments,” said the study's last author Judith Garcia-Aymerich, PhD and head of the Non-Communicable Diseases and Environment Programme at ISGlobal in a statement.