A study from Harvard School of Public Health recently found a possible link between autism and air pollution. The study covers pregnant women who were exposed to high air pollution during their third trimester.
It was discovered that the risk is parallel with exposure to fine particle matter. The further into the pregnancy, the greater the risk. This latest finding adds to previous research also indicating the environment’s role in the cause of autism.
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Air pollution – a look at autism spectrum disorder
Autism spectrum disorder covers a large group of neurological disorders which are often characterized by development and social impairments. Signs of this disorder can appear as early as infancy. Babies with autism spectrum disorder sometimes appear unresponsive or focused on one thing in particular. As the child gets older, he or she may seem unresponsive in social situations. Male children are more likely to develop autism spectrum disorder than female children.
In mid-December, a study on autism was published in Environmental Health Perspectives. The study took a close look at 245 children with autism and 1,522 without it. The study looked at estimated pollution exposure during pregnancy, which was based on the mother’s home address. Scientists found high levels of pollution were more common in autistic children. The strongest link involved fine particle matter like invisible specks of chemicals, mineral dust, and carbon. The specks enter the bloodstream and damage the body.
Air pollution remains a strong factor
There is still a strong genetic factor in the autism mystery, but research shows air pollution still plays a huge factor. According to lead researcher Marc Weisskopf, the specificity of the findings show for the pregnancy (particularly the third trimester) rules out other possibilities, and the evidence for the findings is quite strong.
King’s College London environmental research group director Professor Frank Kelly believes that if the study was on its own, it would not warrant notice. Since this is the fifth study that ended with the same result, he said we should take notice.