Pollution and Pregnancy: Is There a Link to Autism?

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Is it possible that there is a link to autism when it comes to pollution and pregnancy?  

A recent government report found that rates of autism in the United States are higher than ever. Although a different government agency reported last year that up to 1 in 88 children had autism, new date shows that the disease could be as prevalent as 1 in 50—or at least one child on every school bus.

We still don't know what causes autism in the first place. But now, perhaps for the first time ever, science may have an answer. And it starts with pregnancy.

And while researchers are still in disagreement about if more children actually have autism or if experts are simply getting better about diagnosing the condition, one thing is for certain:

 We still don’t know what causes autism in the first place.

But now, perhaps for the first time ever, science may have an answer.

And it starts during pregnancy.

A recently-published study by Environmental Health Perspectives organization concluded that “perinatal exposure to air pollutants may increase risk for ASD,” or autism spectrum disorders.

The study used previous research that pointed to specific pollutants already suspected to contribute to autism and studied those pollutants more in-depth. Pregnant women who were exposed to the pollutants of diesel, lead, manganese, mercury, methylene chloride, other metals were “significantly associated with ASD.” In some cases, such as with diesel and mercury, the association with autism was almost doubled.

In keeping with other studies that have discovered that autism is found more frequently in boys, the study also found that the pollution-association was stronger in boys (279 cases) than girls (only 46 cases).

Studies that have looked at countries that high have autism rates—such as South Korea with a shocking 1 in 38 children—may prove the pollution-autism link. For instance, toxic smog from China enveloped South Korea earlier this year with levels in some areas that were “double what the government deemed acceptable levels.”

Although researchers state that more studies still need to be done on the pollution-autism link, pregnant women, especially those with a strong family history or other triggers, will want to take into consideration this information and do what they can to steer clear of polluted air. 

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Pollution and Pregnancy: Is There a Link to Autism?

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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