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Researchers Find Link Between Autism and Traffic Pollution

Posted By Angie Schmitt On November 27, 2012 @ 3:18 pm In Air Quality,Health | 12 Comments

One more reason to reduce driving: Exposure to high levels of traffic pollutants may increase the risk that children will develop autism, according to a study published recently in the Archives of General Psychology [1].


A new study found that living near areas with high levels of traffic pollution during pregnancy and the first year of life is linked to an elevated risk of autism. Photo: Google Maps

Researchers from the University of California Keck School of Medicine examined traffic-related air pollution levels in two groups of children: 279 with autism and 245 without. The study found that autistic children and their mothers were twice as likely to live in high-pollution areas during pregnancy and the first year of life, controlling for other factors.

One in 88 children in the U.S. is affected by autism.

Researchers have been looking at a potential link between air pollution and the enigmatic developmental disorder for three years. Fine particle pollution and nitrogen dioxide — two of the leading pollutants emitted by internal combustion vehicles — affect the behavior of certain genes in the early stages of development. One of these genes is known to be less active in children with autism, according to a report on the study published on WebMD [3].

There is a growing consensus that autism is caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors.┬áIn reviewing the study, Andrew Adesman, MD, at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, said that traffic-related air pollution is likely one of many contributing factors, WebMD reports.

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URLs in this post:

[1] Archives of General Psychology: http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1393589

[2] Image: http://usa.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2012/11/Screen-shot-2012-11-27-at-12.23.25-PM.png

[3] WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/news/20121121/air-pollution-autism-risk?page=2

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