Green Space May Benefit Mental Health in Early Childhood

Association seen between green space and fewer internalizing symptoms
Green Space May Benefit Mental Health in Early Childhood
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Medically Reviewed By:
Meeta Shah, M.D.

WEDNESDAY, April 17, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Green space is associated with fewer internalizing symptoms in early childhood, according to a study published online April 10 in JAMA Network Open.

Nissa Towe-Goodman, Ph.D., from the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues evaluated the association between residential green space and early internalizing (e.g., anxiety and depression) and externalizing (e.g., aggression and rule-breaking) symptoms among 2,103 children (ages 2 to 11 years) in 41 U.S. states.

The researchers found that greater green space exposure was associated with fewer early childhood (ages 2 to 5 years) internalizing symptoms in fully adjusted models (b = −1.29). There were no associations seen between residential green space and internalizing or externalizing symptoms in middle childhood (ages 6 to 11 years).

"These findings suggest that green initiatives (e.g., parks, urban forest programs, and protected natural areas) have the potential to reduce risk for early anxiety and depressive symptoms in children across the U.S.," the authors write. "At a time of crisis in children’s mental health and dwindling natural environments, policies that protect and promote green space could have widespread benefits for children, society, and the environment."

Abstract/Full Text

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