Traffic Pollution Could Put Your Baby at Greater Risk of Autism

This Just In 10

pollutionAnother day, another study telling us what may or may not cause autism? Well, yes, but this one that links autism with exposure to traffic pollution during pregnancy or the first year of a child's life seems to have some serious legs.

According to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, researchers found that pregnant women exposed to high levels of pollution were as much as two to three times more likely to have a child with autism than those with the lowest exposure. That's a huge difference, and it's not the first time such a link has been found.

The strongest link was an exposure to nitrogen dioxide, which is found in high levels around freeways. Families living within 1,000 feet of a freeway were found to have the highest risk. So does that mean if you live in a high-traffic area, you should move the minute you get pregnant?

More from The Stir: The Way Your Baby Cries Could Be a Sign of Autism -- But Don't Panic

Researchers say it's not that simple ... like always. Heather Volk, lead author of the study, told Time:

We’re not saying that air pollution causes autism. We’re saying it may be a risk factor for autism. Autism is a complex disorder and it’s likely there are many factors contributing.

Time also points out that while autism rates have skyrocketed over the years, the levels of the pollutants measured in the study have stayed pretty much the same. So once again we're left with a new fear of something that may or may not alter our children's lives. We're left with possible regrets and what ifs about where we choose to live or how we commute to work. We're left with a whole lot more questions and no real answers.

It's easy to get frustrated I think, as these studies come out so regularly. A couple of weeks ago it was the flu during pregnancy freaking everyone out. Autism has also been linked to everything from vaccines to a lack of prenatal vitamins to the food we eat. 

Instead of being frustrated or living in fear of each new piece of information, however, we should look at the findings with hope (as difficult as that may be). The fact that they are finding links and that studies continue to probe into this mystifying disorder is positive. While each one individually may not change lives, together, hopefully, they'll all come together one day to give us the answers we need to prevent and possibly even cure autism.

What do you think of this latest study?


Image via Daveness_98/Flickr

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nonmember avatar Cleo

"Within 1,000 miles of a freeway??". Isn't that EVERYONE??

Jamie Lechner

All of these useless "studies" that never prove anything. Stop trying to look for a scapegoat and focus on solutions to make affected kids lives easier!

My son's Austism has been PROVEN to be genetic as I have an uncle and possibly my sister both on the spectrum. I'm not looking to blame pollution, vaccinations or anything else! I'm looking for ways to make his life BETTER from here on. 

Cassandra Huber

Always looking for a way to blame others for your children's problems, yet never looking for a solution.  Stop scaring people with research that is just that....the vast majority of it is baseless, and people should not use it to become paranoid. Autism is strictly genetic, not from all these other sources, as is most diseases in our families.

lasombrs lasombrs

that its crap. I live in middle of freaking nowhere NH and never ever sit in traffic and our son has autism. I think they reach for random stuff :/

nonmember avatar JAT

WOW they are sure getting desprite to try and lead ppl away from the truth of autism... whats next...oh if you ate egss while pregnant your kid will have autism....give me a break. I hope noone is dumb enough to believe this crapola

Mark Harrell

Most of the time autism is merely a failure to properly discipline children by bad parents

nonmember avatar courtney yates

@Mark-Your comment is not only cruel but ignorant. Heaven forbid Autism should touch you or your family. Look at the stats of diagnosis, chances are YOU WILL BE TOUCHED BY AUTISM!


Instead of spending $ on some survey, how about funding some programs to help kids or adults who have been diagnosed? My child might need daily help for the next 60+ years or so.  I will not be there to continue to care for her for the rest of her life.

(If autism is the result of bad parenting, how come only my oldest is diagnosed?  I was so focused on her that I didn't spend half the effort with my 2 youngest kids who do not have a diagnosis.)

nonmember avatar Luke

Hello People,
I've done research, gone to all kinds of seminars, went to all the famous doctors and Dr. Bernard R. God Bless his soul. Dr. Wakefield and Dr. Green. Did all the supplements, tests,early intervention, progress pace, and when the tests came back from the lab it was what I thought all along that they keep hiding....High elevation Mercury. I asked where it comes from and the Dr. told me it was from the shots. I have the proof. If you look up autism it is exactly the same as mercury poisoning. They make so much from these shots and the FDA doesn't want to panic the population or lose money. Look at the epidemics now in India and where we give our shots to now. Now they have a severe rate of autism. My daughter is fine now. She was chelated and is a straight A student and adores music. I found my happy ending, but I had to fight like hell and beat this horrible poison. I spaced my sons shots out and only gave him a few he really needed when he was like 6. He's fine. I didn't even want to give him those. Most shots are not even needed anyways. Don't give up and don't let them say autism is like diamonds...forever. This is not true if you fight hard enough. You can beat this.Good luck all and God bless. I know how much it hurts. I opened my daughter up with music. It is truly the key to the soul.

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