Scientist have once again drawn links between air quality and autism, in this instance suggesting that the chances of having an autistic baby double for those living in area with severe levels of air pollution. The warning comes from the Harvard School of Public Health, where a study directly looking at the connection between air pollution and autism has brought to light some startling evidence.
The research looked at 22,000 women with non-autistic children and 325 women whose children had been diagnosed with autism. Scientists took note of the air quality at the time and in the place of the birth of each child, referring to the pollution level averages as reported by the EPA to assess the places the mothers resided and spent time while pregnant.
A variety of other influential factors were addressed and recorded by the study, which included wealth, education, general levels of health an d the smoking and drinking habits of the parents.
The results were startling and deeply worrying.
According to the data gathered, the women that lived in the 20% of the country most heavily affected by air pollution were twice as likely to have a child with autism as the mothers in the 20% of the country with the cleanest air. The study was looking with particular focus at diesel and mercury as the key air pollutants under investigation.
But it wasn’t just these pollutants that posed a danger at high levels. The data also showed that others like lead, methylene chloride and manganese could increase the likelihood of having an autistic child by 50%.
One of the most interesting though inconclusive findings from the study was, according to the scientists, the way in which baby boys seemed to show considerably higher sensitivity to the pollutants studies than girls. This resulted in the risk of autism in boys coming out higher than that of the girls, but the team conducting the study insisted that further research was needed before this finding could be considered a conclusive fact.