Thursday, December 20, 2012
ScienceDaily — Research conducted by University of Southern California (USC) and Children's Hospital Los Angeles scientists demonstrates that polluted air -- whether regional pollution or coming from local traffic sources -- is associated with autism.
The study titled "Traffic Related Air Pollution, Particulate Matter, and Autism," shows that exposure to traffic-related air pollution during pregnancy and the first year of life is associated with a more than two-fold risk of autism. In addition, exposure to regional pollution consisting of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and small particles -- particulate matter less than 2.5 and 10 microns in diameter (PM2.5 and PM10) -- is also associated with autism even if the mother did not live near a busy road. The study is published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, a sister publication of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
In the 2012 study, Volk and colleagues from USC and the University of California, Davis examined data on 279 autism cases and 245 control subjects enrolled in the California-based Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) study. Mothers' addresses from birth certificates and addresses reported from a residential history were used to estimate exposure during each trimester of pregnancy and the first year of life. The researchers used air pollution levels derived from the Environmental Protection Agency's Air Quality System to determine exposure to NO2, PM2.5, and PM10. They also applied dispersion models to estimate the amount of traffic the mothers and children were exposed to.
Volk and colleagues are now at work on a study of how genes related to autism may be affected by environmental exposures to try to identify if there are factors that make people are genetically more vulnerable to particular pollutants.
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