The rise in exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution increases the risk of autism in children

Indoor Air Cartoon Journal, September 2019, Volume 2, #78

The rise in the rate of autism in children is a global public health concern. Experts suggest the risk factors for autism occurrence in a child include deficient birth weight, older parent, autism in the child’s sibling, and genetic conditions like Down fragile X and Rett Syndromes. There is emerging evidence suggesting that air pollution exposure increase the risk of a child suffering from autism. Exposure of pregnant mother to air pollution may increase the risk of the unborn child. The effects of particles, organic and inorganic pollutants in causing unusual variation in genetic composition to inhibit neuropsychological development in children increase the risk.

A review by Suades-Gonzalez et al. (2015) suggests a strong link between polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, PM2.5, and nitrogen oxides exposures and neuropsychological development in children. Traffic pollution, forest burning, and factories are some of the pollutants in the outdoor environment. Exposure to pollutants of outdoor origin occurs mostly in the indoor environment due to outdoor to indoor transport of the pollutants. The pollutants could also have indoor sources, e.g. indoor combustion activities. The link between air pollution and the prevalence of autism is still a subject of scientific investigations.

Effort should be made to reduce exposure, particular that of children and pregnant women, to the pollutants. Prevention is better than cure. Thus, priority should be given to reducing or eliminating the sources of the pollutants in the outdoor and indoor environment.  Policies or efforts attempting to reduce or eliminate the sources should seek to understand the root cause of the emergence of the sources.

78. Autism_78

Do you want to know more about this topic? Read Suades-Gonzalez (2015) and Volk et al. (2013) papers.

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