Reporting Dr. Maria Simbra
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Gleny Duran wants to know why her 8-year-old son Angel has autism.
“Is it something that I’m eating, is it the air? Is it genetic?” she asks.
Doctors don’t know exactly what causes the neurological disorder, but now more research points to the environment playing a role. In the first national study of its kind, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health looked at 25,000 women and found those exposed to high levels of air pollution while pregnant were twice as likely to have a child with autism.
Dr. Alycia Halladay, the senior director of Clinical and Environmental Sciences of Autism Speaks says, “We need to be concerned about levels of air pollution in our environment and we need to do everything we can to reduce ambient air pollution exposures.”
Exposure to diesel, lead and other pollutants are known to affect a baby’s brain development.
One in 88 children has autism in the United States. This study does not mean that pollution causes autism, but it may be another risk factor.
“One of many different risk factors both genetic and environmental. And what we really need to better understand is how these many risk factors, how they interact together,” Dr. Halladay continues.
Gleny lives in Manhattan and says she is concerned about the air quality.
“It’s full of pollution so it’s definitely going to be something that’s in our mind,” she says.
But she says the city also offers so many programs for children with special needs,so moving really isn’t an option.