More than half of the world's population live in urban areas, and most children spend about 40 hours a week at school. We conducted a systematic review of 28 studies to assess the impact of exposure to green or blue spaces on child neurodevelopment. We found that most studies focused on cognitive and academic performance, with passive exposure to green/blue spaces studied more than active exposure. The results show mixed evidence of a protective relationship between exposure to green/blue spaces and neurodevelopment, with some improvements seen in cognitive/academic performance, attention restoration, behavior, and impulsivity. Renaturalizing school spaces and promoting greener school environments could help improve children's neurodevelopment. However, there was great variation in the methodologies and adjustment for confounding factors across studies, suggesting a need for a standardized approach to delivering school environmental health interventions to benefit children's development.
Citation: Diaz-Martinez F, Sanchez-Sauco MF, Cabrera-Rivera LT, Ojeda Sanchez C, Hidalgo-Albadalejo MD, Claudio L, Ortega-Garcia JA. Systematic Review: Neurodevelopmental benefits of active/passive school exposure to green and/or blue spaces in children and adolescents. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2023, 20 (5) 3958.
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Dr. Luz Claudio is an environmental health scientist, mother and consultant, originally from Puerto Rico. She is a tenured professor of environmental medicine and public health. Luz recently published her first book: How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper: The Step-by-Step Guide. Dr. Claudio has internship programs and resources for young scientists. Opinions expressed in this blog are solely her own and may not reflect her employer's views.