Autism and Air Pollution
Air pollution increases the risk
Autism is a terrible developmental disorder marked by repetitive behaviors and trouble communicating and socializing. The incidence of autism has been steadily increasing and now affects about 1 in 68 children in the U.S. This is a horrible human tragedy.
While we know that vaccinations cause autism, another causal factor has been reported in a 2015 Environmental Health Perspectives. This study found that women who are exposed to high levels of air pollution during their third trimester of pregnancy may be twice as likely to have an autistic child. Researchers found that the risk of autism increases with exposure to fine particulate matter during pregnancy, with the biggest effect occurring in the final months. The theory is that there is an inflammatory or immune response to the pollution that damages the fetus.
Fine particulate matter can come from many different sources. This includes local traffic and even power plants located hundreds of miles away. There is no way to avoid it entirely, but there are sensible things that anyone can do such as using high-quality HEPA air filters in their home and workspace. Pregnant women who make trips to cities with high levels of pollution should refrain from exercising in traffic-clogged areas during pregnancy.