A new study conducted by Heather E. Volk, PhD, MPH, of University of Southern California, indicated that exposure to traffic-related air pollution during pregnancy and first-year of the child's life may associated with an increased risk of child autism.
The study compared 279 autistic children with 245 regular children. At the time the study started, the children were ages 2 to 5 years. Volk used the mothers' address to estimate exposure to pollution during each trimester of pregnancy and during the child's first year of life. They used information from the USA Environmental Protective Agency and performed traffic modeling to figure out amount of traffic-related pollution at each location. They also looked at exposure to particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide. Children who lived in the place with the highest estimated levels of traffic pollution were 3 times more likely to have autism than those living in the lowest pollution area.
Volk says her study suggests, but does not confirm, that air pollution may play a role in whether a child develops autism.
I guess now we have another reason to reduce traffic pollution, like off the car engine if not running for more than 30 seconds.