Mothers exposed to high levels of common air pollutants are at a greater risk of having children with autism or autism spectrum disorders, according to a new study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry (November 26).
Researchers at the University of Southern California analyzed roughly 500 kids half of whom had autism and half of whom did not. Background data about the kids' homes—including info on traffic volume, vehicle emissions, wind patterns, and regional estimates of pollutants like particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, and ozone—was then collected.
The scientists found that those kids in the top 25% of pollutant exposure were far more likely to get an autism diagnosis than those in the bottom 25%.
"We're not saying that air pollution causes autism. We're saying it may be a risk factor for autism," says Heather Volk, lead author on the new study and an assistant professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California. "Autism is a complex disorder and it's likely there are many factors contributing," she adds.
by RTT Staff Writer
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