A new study of 524 children in California finds that children living in homes exposed to the highest levels of traffic-related pollution were three times as likely to have autism. Study author Heather Volk of the University of Southern California says that while a lot of research to date has focused on genetic risk factors for autism, "In the last few years, we really have begun to have additional efforts looking at environmental risk factors for autism. It’s increasingly likely that it’s a combination of [the two].” The study was published in The Archives of General Psychiatry.

Volk and her colleagues were following up on earlier research that found an association between autism and living near a freeway. In this latest study, instead of using freeway proximity as a proxy for pollution, they modeled individual exposure using historic meteorological and traffic data on roads of all kinds – freeways, state highways, arterials and collector roads – within 5 kilometers of the child’s home. They concluded the association couldn't be explained by demographic or socioeconomic factors.

Read more on theatlanticcities.com.


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