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Are Autism and Pollution Linked to Each Other?

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Pregnant women exposed to high levels of traffic pollution were twice as likely to bear a child with autism as opposed to children exposed at the lowest level of pollution.

The drama and publicity surrounding the controversial claim that vaccinations cause autism has overshadowed a very real, and very verifiable, cause of autism – traffic pollution.

There’s no doubt, the automobile has changed the world in dramatic, positive ways, but now that there are upwards of 750 million cars on the road today, traffic pollution is becoming a major environmental issue. Researchers are also determining this pollution has serious health consequences.

In the past, researchers documented air pollution’s negative impact on reproductive and cardiovascular health, but a new study goes a few steps farther.

Researcher Heather E. Volk, of the University of Southern California Keck School Of Medicine, has concluded that pregnant women exposed to high levels of traffic pollution were twice as likely to bear a child with autism as opposed to children exposed at the lowest level of pollution. Unfortunately, children exposed to even higher levels of traffic pollution were more than three times more likely to receive an autism diagnosis.

Volk did issue a caveat with her study – more time and research is needed to solidify the assumption that this is a cause-and-effect relationship, although the evidence is quickly, and unfortunately, piling up in Volk’s favor. Clearly, as the data rolls in, vehicle emissions are a growing issue for the environment, and now our children may be at serious risk.

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