Boston — A study conducted by researchers from Harvard University adds another evidence that links autism with the exposure to pollution of pregnant mothers during their third trimester– and found that the risk is doubled during this phase.
In addition to the numerous studies already previously conducted by scientists in the past years, the research recently published on the journal Environmental Health Perspectives also found evidences of the link, this time through a large-scale study that involved about 116,000 female nurses in the US.
According to Marc Weisskopf, associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and lead researcher of the study,
“We found an association that was specific to pregnancy and especially to the third trimester, identifying a window, which might shed a light on processes that are happening that can lead to autism.”
Weisskopf and his colleagues concluded that the greater the exposure rate of the pregnant mothers to air pollutants, the higher the risk was for their children to develop Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Out of 1,767 children who were involved in the study, researchers found that 245 of them developed autism. Weisskopf told:
“One of the unique aspects of the study we did is that it provides an even stronger piece of evidence for there being a causal effect. It’s really the pollution doing it.”
Weisskopf and his team are trying to dig deeper into the possible direct effects of the pollutants to expectant mothers, in hopes of unraveling a significant part of the mysterious developmental disorder.
Contributed by Althea Estrella Violeta
Air Pollution Exposure in Pregnancy Linked to Autism in Study
Bill Briggs on the NBC News website: Autism and Air Pollution: New Study Bolsters Suspected Link