Traffic Pollution Tied to Autism Risk
UCLA researchers point to the link between traffic pollution and autism in a largest study of this kind.
The team compared pollution exposure levels of 7600 autistic children born between 1995 and 2006 with the same number of children without autism and found women exposed to heavy pollution have a 10 percent increase in the risk of having an autistic baby.
"That means, if you have ten children and you are exposed to traffic toxic, the eleventh child may get autism,” Dr. Beate Ritz explains.
In the same study, Dr. Ritz also finds that autism risk is higher among less educated family and minority groups.
For Jackie Huang, the study unsolved a question she has for years. Her son was diagnosed with autism at three, but she never finds a leading cause of disease.
"My son could say a lot of things in both English and Chinese at 18 month old. Then a few month after that, he has strange behaviors like tearing paper for hours.”
Now Huang believe her son’s autism has something to do with her job at a downtown accounting firm.
"I went to see clients at different locations as an auditor. The job was really stressful and I sit in traffic for long hours,” she said.
But other autistic parents express wariness of studies of this kinds.
"I understand that a lot of parents are very interested in it. I am not anymore. At this point I am more interested in helping my son become a functional member of our world in terms of having a job one day. It bothered me a little bit that we had so much studies that is not helpful to parents, I am a little tired of it,” said Gloria Perez Stewart, an autism advocates and autistic parents.
The researchers have yet to find some preventative measures, but Dr. Ritz suggests that pregnant eat as healthy as possible and avoid unnecessary commute.