Study links autism to air pollution
There may be a new reason for why pregnant women should avoid air pollution: it could be linked to the fetus developing autism.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found high levels of pollution may have doubled the autism risk in their study of 1,767 children. In the analysis, 245 children had autism and 1,522 did not. Based on the mother’s home address, the researchers estimated the exposure the pregnant mother had to air pollution. They found that many children with autism also lived in high polluted areas.
Polluted air could be a factor in autism due to fine particulate matter, such as invisible specks of mineral dust, carbon and other chemicals. These chemicals can then be absorbed into the bloodstream via the lungs and further damage the brain or body.
The study was published in Environmental Health Perspectives but did not conclude that air pollution is a cause of autism, only a possible association. This is the fifth study to find a connection between air pollution and autism.