Environmental Pollution May Be Contributing To Autism Risk

HealthDay (3/14, Norton) reports that according to a study published March 13 in the journal PLoS Computational Biology, “environmental pollution might be contributing to autism risk, although the specific culprit toxins remain unknown.” After analyzing “nearly 100 million US health insurance claims,” researchers “found a correlation between US counties’ autism rates and their rates of genital birth defects in boys, which could be a sign of some common environmental contributors.”

MedPage Today (3/14, Raeburn) reports the investigators also “used male congenital malformations as a surrogate for parental exposures to environmental insults – including pesticides, lead, sex hormone analogs, medication, and plasticizers, among others – which are believed to play a role in the causation of” autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and intellectual disability (ID). The study authors concluded, “Adjusted for gender, ethnic, socioeconomic, and geopolitical factors, the ASD incidence rates were strongly linked to population-normalized rates of congenital malformations of the reproductive system in males – an increase in ASD incidence of 283% for every percent increase in incidence of malformations (95% CI 91-576, P<6 x 10⁻⁵).” The study received financial support from the National Institutes of Health. Related Links:

— “More Evidence Environmental Exposures Contribute to Autism,” Amy Norton, HealthDay, March 13, 2014.

Posted in In The News.