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Autism and traffic pollution linked

LOS ANGELES - In a finding that points to a link between environmental toxins and autism, a new study shows that children who were exposed to the highest levels of traffic-related air pollution during gestation and in early infancy were three times more likely to be diagnosed with the neurodevelopmental disorder than were those whose early exposure to such pollutants was very low.

The study, published Monday in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found that early exposure to high levels of air pollution in general was linked to an increased likelihood of autism in a group of more than 500 children followed for several years from birth.

The researchers gathered regional air quality data and used detailed calculations to estimate the air quality around the residence in which a child's mother spent her pregnancy and the resulting child spent his or her first year.

Their findings suggest that the link between air pollution and autism is evident largely at the highest levels of exposure, and slightly higher when the exposure comes later in a woman's pregnancy.

Los Angeles Times

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