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Study Links Pollution From Traffic to Autism Risk

However, Ronald Leaf, a director at Seal Beach-based Autism Partnership, urges skepticism and says studies linking causes to autism typically "don't pan out."

Exposure to air pollution from traffic during pregnancy and the first year of life increases an infant's risk of autism, according to a study released today by USC and Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

The researchers behind the study, titled "Traffic Related Air Pollution, Particulate Matter, and Autism," say exposure to traffic-related air pollution during pregnancy and early life is linked to a more than two-fold risk of autism.

In addition, exposure to regional pollution consisting of nitrogen dioxide and small pollution particles is also associated with autism, even if the mother did not live near a busy road, according to research published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, a sister publication of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The USC/CHLA study found that children whose mothers lived in areas with high levels of pollution from traffic or with poor air quality during pregnancy or the first year of life may be more likely to have autism.   

"This work has broad potential public health implications," said the study's principal investigator, Dr. Heather Volk, assistant professor of preventive medicine at USC's Keck School of Medicine and an investigator at CHLA.

"We've known for a long time that air pollution is bad for our lungs, and especially for children," she said. "We're now beginning to understand how air pollution may affect the brain."

The research is the first to look at the amount of near-roadway traffic pollution to which individuals were exposed and combine that with measures of regional air quality, Volk said.

The study builds on previous research that examined how close subjects lived to a freeway, Volk said.

"We took into account how far away people lived from roads, meteorology such as which way the wind was blowing, how busy the road was, and other factors to study traffic-related pollution," she said. "We also examined data from air quality monitors, which measure pollution over a larger region that could come from traffic, industry, rail yards or many other sources."

Ronald Leaf, psychologist and a director at the Seal Beach-based Autism Partnership, said he hadn’t read the study yet, but he’s seen his share of reports claiming to have found a cause for autism and advises people to be skeptical.

“Every year they come out with new studies that sort of link causes to autism, and typically they don’t pan out,” Leaf said. “Perhaps this one will."

However, Leaf said, “It’s probably preliminary at best.”

According to Leaf, there’s a lot of misinformation and rumor floating around regarding autism, and people should fully investigate any claims they hear about the disorder – specifically by reading peer-reviewed scientific journals.

-- City News Service

-- Patch Reporter John Crandall contributed to this story. 

Art DeBolt November 27, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Parents there is real hope. Go to this web site: www.nids.net Check it out and do your own 'due diligence'. My 5 year old grandson is 'autistic'. It took three months to get an appointment with Dr. Goldberg (MD pediatrician). Eli is now three weeks into the protocol and he is a different child. Clear eyed, engaging in play with his brothers, sleeping through the night and walking up to his mother and saying 'Hi Mom' for the first time. I went to the 2.5 hour first appointment ready to rip into this guy if I felt he was trying to take advantage of my daughter and son-in-law, with some high priced, snake oil bs. I found him to be the real deal, selling nothing...simply a caring physician that has had tremendous success treating a MEDICAL condition that manifests itself with autistic like behaviors and symptons. Go to www.nids.net and check it out for yourself.
Art DeBolt November 27, 2012 at 03:19 PM
I ran out of space on the previous post... Here is a recent post from a parent on a NIDS blog: Subject: [NIDS] NIDS proof To: NIDS@yahoogroups.com Date: Saturday, November 24, 2012, 2:43 PM We have certifiable proof that NIDS is the reason Alex is improving so drastically. We entered a research study for the P.L.A.Y. project (The brain child of Stanley Greenspan's protege Dr. Salmonson so think D.I.R. for intervention) 2 months after visiting Dr. Goldberg. We were placed in the control group so received no additional therapies or interventions other than what he was receiving through school and private speech. We just received the results for the one year post testing. The most telling report was the ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. Communication he went from 10 to 3 with 4 being the cutoff for an autism qualification. Reciprocal Social Interaction he went from an 11 to a 7 with 7 being the cutoff for autism. So the total for the test the cutoff for autism is 12 and he is at a 10. THANK YOU NIDS AND DRS. GOLDBERG AND RUSSELL FOR HELPING OUR KIDS!!!!! Go to www.nids.net and check it out for your self

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