Exposure to Road Traffic Noise and Behavioral Problems in 7-Year-Old Children: A Cohort Study

Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Feb;124(2):228-34. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1409430. Epub 2015 Jun 30.


Background: Exposure to traffic noise has been associated with adverse effects on neuropsychological outcomes in children, but findings with regard to behavioral problems are inconsistent.

Objective: We investigated whether residential road traffic noise exposure is associated with behavioral problems in 7-year-old children.

Methods: We identified 46,940 children from the Danish National Birth Cohort with complete information on behavioral problems at 7 years of age and complete address history from conception to 7 years of age. Road traffic noise (Lden) was modeled at all present and historical addresses. Behavioral problems were assessed by the parent-reported Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Associations between pregnancy and childhood exposure to noise and behavioral problems were analyzed by multinomial or logistic regression and adjusted for potential confounders.

Results: A 10-dB increase in average time-weighted road traffic noise exposure from birth to 7 years of age was associated with a 7% increase (95% CI: 1.00, 1.14) in abnormal versus normal total difficulties scores; 5% (95% CI: 1.00, 1.10) and 9% (95% CI: 1.03, 1.18) increases in borderline and abnormal hyperactivity/inattention subscale scores, respectively; and 5% (95% CI: 0.98, 1.14) and 6% (95% CI: 0.99, 1.12) increases in abnormal conduct problem and peer relationship problem subscale scores, respectively. Exposure to road traffic noise during pregnancy was not associated with child behavioral problems at 7 years of age.

Conclusions: Residential road traffic noise in early childhood may be associated with behavioral problems, particularly hyperactivity/inattention symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Denmark
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Noise, Transportation / adverse effects*
  • Problem Behavior / psychology*