It may be time for a new answer to “What is Autism?”
New research from the University of Rochester Medical Center describes how exposure to air pollution early in life produces harmful changes in the brains of mice, including an enlargement of part of the brain that is seen in humans who have autism and schizophrenia. It appears as if the damage is permanent.
As in autism and schizophrenia, the changes occurred predominately in males. The mice also performed poorly in tests of short-term memory, learning ability, and impulsivity.
The new findings are consistent with several recent studies that have shown a link between air pollution and autism in children. Most notably, a 2013 study in JAMA Psychiatry reported that children who lived in areas with high levels of traffic-related air pollution during their first year of life were three times as likely to develop autism.
“Our findings add to the growing body of evidence that air pollution may play a role in autism, as well as in other neuro-developmental disorders.”– Deborah Cory-Slechta, Ph.D., professor of Environmental Medicine at the University of Rochester
This is an excerpt from a story reported on June 6, 2014 about the research on autism and air pollution: