A US study found during pregnancy a doubled autism risk among children of women exposed to high levels of particulate air pollution. The association was strongest when the exposure occurred during the third trimester.
The study, led by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, was funded in part by Autism Speaks (Raz et al. 2015).
By looking at estimated pollution exposure during pregnancy, based on the mother’s home address, the scientists concluded high levels of pollution were more common in children with autism.
The strongest link was with fine particulate matter – invisible specks of mineral dust, carbon and other chemicals – that enter the bloodstream and cause damage throughout the body.