Air Pollution Ups the Risk of Autism

Poor air quality often goes hand in hand with this medical condition, new study says

The Archives of General Psychiatry has recently witnessed the publication of a new study stating that poor air quality ups the risks of children developing autism.

More precisely, should a child be exposed to increased levels of air pollution while still in its mother's womb and during its first year of life, the chances that he/she will develop autism later in life are two-fold higher.

Given the fact that some of the mother-child pairs taken into consideration for this study did not even live close to busy roads, the researchers concluded that autism had to be linked not only to traffic, but also to regional pollution.

This conclusion was reached after the scientists took into consideration parameters such as proximity to busy roads, meteorology (i.e. wind patterns), and the impact of various industries on local air quality, Eurek! Alert explains.

According to several laboratory-based experiments, people exposed to high levels of air pollution more often than not end up inhaling harmful particles and sooner or later these produce tissue inflammation.

The study's principal investigator, Heather Volk, Ph.D, explains that, “From studies conducted in the lab, we know that we can breathe in tiny particles and they can produce inflammation. Particles have varied composition, and there are many chemical that can bind to them. The components of these particles could be hazardous to the brain.”

Needless to say, the findings of this study must be given due consideration by those in charge of rules and regulations concerning public health.

Heather Volk made a case of how, “We've known for a long time that air pollution is bad for our lungs, and especially for our children. We're now beginning to understand how air pollution may affect the brain.”

Therefore, “This work has broad potential public health implications.”

The study was conducted by specialists working with the University of Southern California and the Children's Hospital Los Angeles, and the necessary funding was provided by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

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