Pregnant Women Exposed to Air Pollution Tend to Have Children With Higher Rates of Autism, Study Finds

Amy Kalkbrenner, faculty, Zilber School of Public Health.A new study led by Amy Kalkbrenner, an assistant professor in the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, has found evidence that women who are exposed to air pollutants, particularly during the third trimester of their pregnancies, were more likely that other women to have children that developed autism and related disorders. Autism disorders now impact about one of every 68 children born in the United States.

Dr. Kalkbrenner’s research focused on 87,000 children in North Carolina and 77,500 children in California. She compared levels of pollutants, particularly those found in car exhaust, in the neighborhoods in which the mother lived during their pregnancies, with the autism rates of their children. She found a correlation in both North Carolina and California for higher rates of autism in areas with high levels of air pollutants. She speculates that exposure to pollutants during the third trimester have a strong correlation with autism because that is the time where there is a high degree of brain development in the fetus.

Dr. Kalkbrenner says that her study “adds another piece supporting the hypothesis that environmental chemicals are part of the autism puzzle. The evidence is pretty compelling that something is going on with air pollution and autism.”

The article, “Particulate Matter Exposure, Prenatal and Postnatal Windows of Susceptibility, and Autism Spectrum Disorders,” was published on the website of the journal Epidemiology. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


RSSComments (0)

Leave a Reply