Autism Spectrum Disorders Linked to Air Pollution

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Children exposed to higher levels of air pollution during pregnancy and the first 2 years of life had an increased risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), according to a report published in Forbes.

Lead researcher Evelyn Talbott, DrPh, MPH from the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues found that children with ASD were 1.4 to two times more likely to have been exposed to higher levels of air pollution during pregnancy and the first 2 years of life than children without ASD.

The researchers interviewed 217 families of children with ASD and compared the information to data from two sets of comparison families of children without ASD. All the children were born from 2005 to 2009 and had lived in the Pennsylvania counties of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Washington, and Westmoreland. Using the National Air Toxics Assessment, the researchers estimated the children’s exposure to 20 pollutants historically linked with neurodevelopmental issues and endocrine disruption.

After adjusting for variables, the researchers found that children with ASD had higher exposure to styrene, cyanide, and chromium than children without ASD.

The study was limited by a lack of individual-level exposure data, since the researchers only estimated exposure by geographical location. The results of the study still only indicate correlation between air pollution and ASD, so further research is needed to prove a direct link between the two.

Autism Spectrum Disorders Linked to Air Pollution
Autism Spectrum Disorders Linked to Air Pollution

Preliminary research out of the University of Pittsburgh found that children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) were 1.4 to two times more likely to have been exposed to higher levels of air pollution during pregnancy and the first two years of life than children without ASD. The results of the study were presented at the American Association for Aerosol Research annual meeting in Orlando, Florida, yesterday.

The researchers interviewed 217 families of children with ASD and compared the data with information from two separate sets of comparison families of children without ASD, all born between 2005 and 2009 and living in the Pennsylvania counties of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Washington, and Westmoreland.

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