Another Study Links Autism to Air Pollution

by jim on July 2, 2013

Melancholy on the trampolineWomen living in high air pollution areas while pregnant are up to twice as likely to have a child with autism as those living in low pollution areas, according to a study released June 18 by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

"What you see is the mothers with the 20 percent least exposure to pollutants, their children are least likely to have autism," lead researcher Dr. Andrea Roberts of the Harvard School of Public Health told The Standard-Times. "With each percentile of pollutant exposure, the presence of autism increased."

The study surveyed more than 300 women about the health of their children and compared the results to federal data on air pollution levels during the time and location of each mother's pregnancy. It's at least the second major study since March confirming a link between airborne pollution, but the evidence has been accumulating since 2006.

Autism is a disorder of brain development characterized by difficulty in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. Nationwide, 1 in 88 children have an autism spectrum disorder, according to the Center for Disease Control.

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