Child autism may be linked to air pollutants

Child autism may be linked to air pollutants

A researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) published a study this week which adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that autism is linked to air pollutants, such as those generated by vehicles.

Amy Kalkbrenner, an environmental epidemiologist, found that a study between pollution and autism rates in North Carolina and California yielded similar results, despite weather and climate differences between the two states.

“It adds another piece supporting the hypothesis that environmental chemicals are part of the autism puzzle,” said Kalkbrenner.

These new findings are consistent with several recent studies that have shown a link between pollution and autism in children. Most notably, a 2013 study into JAMA Psychiatry reported that children who lived in areas with “high levels of traffic-related air pollution during their first year of life were three times as likely to develop autism.”

The University of Rochester Medical Center exposed a number of mice to air pollutants early in their life to see if these theories were concurrent in practice. Research revealed that harmful changes occurred to the brains of the mice when exposed to air pollutants, including an “enlargement of part of the brain that is seen in humans who have autism and schizophrenia.”

Professor of Environmental Medicine at the University of Rochester, Dr Deborah Cory-Slechta, said: “Our findings add to the growing body of evidence that air pollution may play a role in autism, as well as in other neurodevelopmental disorders.”