Can smog be a contributing factor to autism? Pregnant women who inhale a lot of smog released from cars or smoke stacks, could double their chances to giving birth to a child with autism. Tying those mini toxins to the final trimester may offer a clue, because so much neuronal growth happens during those three months — “a time when brain development could be affected.”
Researchers found that of nearly 1,800 U.S. women who gave birth between 1990 and 2002, those exposed to the most air pollution during pregnancy were twice as likely to have a baby who later developed autism. And exposure during the third trimester, specifically, showed the strongest correlation to autism risk.
Experts said the findings, reported in the Dec. 18 online edition of Environmental Health Perspectives, add to evidence that air pollution may contribute to autism.
“This reinforces our confidence that air pollution is a risk factor,” said Michael Rosanoff, director of public health research for the advocacy group Autism Speaks.
Rosanoff, who was not involved in the study, stressed that people should keep the odds in perspective: A twofold increase in a small risk is still a small risk.