Living in an area with high levels of air pollution may increase a woman’s chances of having a child with autism, according to the first national study.
NEWEST STUDY: A recent study conducted in Western Pennsylvania. The study studied which certain air pollutants may place a child at an increased risk for developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This specific region was chosen for the study as a consequence of the high number of cases reported in the area along with certain environmental factors being especially present.
The researchers found links between increased levels of chromium and styrene and childhood autism spectrum disorder, a condition that affects one in 68 children. Children who fell into higher exposure groups of styrene and chromium were at a 1.4- to two-fold greater risk of ASD, after accounting for the age of the mother, maternal cigarette smoking, race and education.
Styrene is used in plastics and paints and is a product of combustion from burning gasoline in vehicles. Air pollution containing chromium is typically the result of the industrial process from industries such as steel manufacturing. Other air pollutants – including cyanide, methylene chloride, methanol and arsenic – were also linked to increased autism risk in children.
SECOND STUDY: Earlier studies have established a potential connection between air pollution and autism risk, but have concentrated on a few individual states. The latest study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives on Tuesday, draws on a large sample of women across the whole country.
HARVARD MAY-14 STUDY: Children in the Harvard research were from Utah and all other states in the nation, born between 1987 and 2002, and studied to correlate pollution levels in the area where the mother lived while pregnant. Data showed that the children who developed autism were statistically more likely to have been exposed to high levels of air pollution in the womb. Children in the womb are known to be susceptible to neurological or genetic damage when exposed to heavy metals and diesel exhaust pollutants.
USC 2013 STUDY: Exposure to air pollution appears to increase the risk for autism among people who carry a genetic disposition for the neurodevelopmental disorder. Air pollution exposure was determined based on the past residences of the children and their mothers, local traffic-related sources, and regional air quality measures.
TAKEAWAY: IF YOU HAVE YOUNG KIDS OR ARE PREGNANT, LIMIT ANY EXPOSURE TO AIR POLLUTION