Air pollution directly increases the risk of autism, study finds


A new study led by Lief Pagalan, a member of the faculty of health sciences at Simon Fraser University has suggested that prenatal exposure to air pollution will directly increase the risk of autism spectrum disorder. During the study, researchers found that pregnant women exposed to nitric oxide, a traffic-related pollutant are more likely to give birth to kids suffering from autism.

As part of the study, Pagalan and team analyzed the health records of 129,436 children born in Vancouver between 2004 and 2009.

"We analyzed air pollution data in Vancouver over the same period to assess air pollution exposures in the pregnant woman. Their children were followed up for at least 5 years to see if they were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder," said Lief Pagalan, CNN reports.

The study report published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics also noted that the impact was actually small, and not statistically significant.

Lief Pagalan also noted that the chances of autism spectrum disorder can be reduced if pregnant women get less exposed to air pollutants.

"Our study, which indicates that air pollution is associated with ASD in a city with relatively lower levels of air pollution adds to the growing concern that there may be no safe levels of exposure to air pollution. While the causes of ASD are not yet fully known, this study suggests that reducing exposure to air pollutants in pregnant women could reduce the likelihood of their children developing autism," added Pagalan.

A few months back, a team of researchers at the University of California and other institutes have found that CRISPR gene editing can be implemented to reduce the symptoms of autism. During the study, these researchers conducted experiments on mice, and they believe that it will emerge as a breakthrough in the treatment of autism spectrum disorder among humans in the future.

This article was first published on November 20, 2018