US: Proximity to freeways during third trimester of pregnancy increases chances of autism, according to a study by a group of researchers at UC Davis’s CHARGE (Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment).
Through the study, researchers aimed to determine whether effects of air pollution are likely to have an impact on the incidence of autism. In addition, they explored association between autism and proximity. They obtained mother’s geo-coded address from the children’s birth certificate and measures of distance to freeways and major roads were calculated using ArcGIS software.
However, this study is by no means the first to associate autism with pollution or toxins. Pesticides, pet shampoos and emissions from coal burning plants have all come under scrutiny. What makes this study particularly significance is the quality of the researchers, the size and scope of the study, and the fact that the numbers were adjusted for several possible confounding factors (socioeconomic and demographic status), observes Lisa Jo Rudy, an active autism advocate.