Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Is there a Link between Air Pollution and Autism?

In Utero Exposure to Toxic Air Pollutants and Risk of Childhood Autism (Abstract, von Ehrenstein, Ondine S.; Aralis, Hilary; Cockburn, Myles; Ritz, Beate, Epidemiology, Oct. 14, 2014)
Also discussed here: Researcher adds to evidence linking autism to air pollutants ScienceDaily, Oct. 14, 2014)

Today we review research conducted in North Carolina that looked at the impact of exposure by pregnant mothers to particulate matter produced by industry and vehicle emissions. Results indicate what has been found elsewhere that there is clear evidence of a higher risk of autism in children as a result of exposure during their gestation in the womb. Seasonal peaks of pollution are important also when some places peak in winter (California) and others in summer (North Carolina).

Major brain structures implicated in autism.
Major brain structures implicated in autism. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Key Quotes:

“Autism, a spectrum of disorders affecting interpersonal relations and work achievement, now affects some 1 in 68 children in the U.S”

“a new, more exact tool to measure the levels of particulate matter in smaller slices of time, based on pollution at the family's address during pregnancy…able to compare exposures during specific weeks of pregnancy”

Risks for autism in children may increase following in utero exposure to ambient air toxics from urban traffic and industry emissions, as measured by community-based air-monitoring stations.”

 “the concentration of particulate matter was highest among children born in summer months in North Carolina and those born in fall and winter months in California.”

 "Evidence for a link between a chemical exposure and a health impact like autism is stronger when it can be shown in more than one region….We've now had three solid studies saying the same thing. The evidence is pretty compelling that something is going on with air pollution and autism,"

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