Particulate Matter - Autism Link?
Melissa Pandika, OZY Media, March 9, 2015
Studies have shown that pregnant women exposed to high levels of pollution have a higher risk of giving birth to a child with autism. Scientists are beginning to unravel just how pollution might render children vulnerable to the disorder, even in the womb. Some think pollution nudges developing fetuses that already have genetic risk factors toward the autism spectrum. Others suspect that pollution triggers an immune response in pregnant women that makes brain development go awry. Studies in California show a relation between traffic-related air pollution and autism, with similar findings in North Carolina. Another study suggests that children with a particular genotype and high air pollutant exposure were at increased risk of autism spectrum disorder compared with subjects who had the genotype and lower air pollutant exposure.
This isn’t the first time pollution has been on the suspect list for autism. But evidence has mounted over the past year, and understanding the relationship between autism and air pollution is crucial — it could light the way toward earlier diagnosis and even intervention, whether through environmental policies that impose stricter regulations on vehicle emissions or filters that remove the chemicals most strongly linked to the disorder. Evidence of an air pollution-autism link "is really getting stronger," says Marc Weisskopf, an associate professor of environmental and occupational epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.