Sex-differences in the effects of indoor air pollutants and household environment on preschool child cognitive development

Ming Lun Zou, Hsiao Chun Huang, Yi Hua Chen, Chuen Bin Jiang, Chih Da Wu, Shih Chun Candice Lung, Ling Chu Chien, Yu Chun Lo, Hsing Jasmine Chao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Air pollution, outdoor residential environment, indoor household characteristics, and parental mental health are potential factors associated with child development. However, few studies have simultaneously analyzed the association between the aforementioned factors and preschool child (aged 2–5 years) development. This study investigated the effects of those factors on child development and their potential modifying effects. A total of 142 participants were recruited from a birth cohort study in the Greater Taipei Area, and the evaluation was conducted at each participant's home from 2017 to 2020. Child cognitive development was assessed by psychologists using the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development and the Wechsler Preschool & Primary Scale of Intelligence. Household air pollutants, outdoor residential environment, indoor household characteristics, parental mental health, and other covariates were evaluated. Multiple regressions were used to examine the relationships between child development and covariates. Stratified analysis by child sex and parental mental health was conducted. Average indoor air pollutant levels were below Taiwan's Indoor Air Quality Standards. After adjustment for covariates, the indoor total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs) level was significantly associated with poor child development (per interquartile range increase in the TVOC level was associated with a 5.1 percentile decrease in child cognitive development). Sex difference was observed for the association between TVOC exposure and child development. Living near schools, burning incense at home, purchasing new furniture, and parental anxiety were related to child development. Indoor TVOC level was associated with poor child cognitive development, specifically with the girls. Indoor and outdoor residential environment and parental anxiety interfered with child development. TVOCs should be used cautiously at home to minimize child exposure. A low-pollution living environment should be provided to ensure children's healthy development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number160365
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • Home characteristics
  • Household air pollution
  • Land use characteristics
  • Parental mental health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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