A new research study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives this March found a direct correlation between Autism Spectrum Disorders and exposure to air pollution, particularly from traffic. Researchers from the Department of Epidemiology of University of California, Los Angeles, and the Department of Preventive Medicine of University of Southern California, estimated exposure to toxins for a controlled population of children diagnosed with ASD between 3-5 years of age, born in Los Angeles. The study utilized data from air monitoring stations and a land use regression (LUR) model to identify each specific child’s exposure rate. The findings suggest a 12-15% increase in risk for autism when exposed to ozone and 3-9% increase when exposed nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide.[i] A mother and, now, clean air activist, shares the story of her son’s autism diagnosis and recovery. Bridget James was concerned about the poor air quality surrounding her home in Utah before becoming pregnant, but was relieved when her son, Park, demonstrated a pretty strong immune system in his first couple years. It was not until Park was diagnosed autistic at 2-years-of-age that Bridget’s suspicions were confirmed. However, the diagnosis did not last. Bridget, having worked with autistic youth prior to becoming a mother, new the signs and symptoms of autism and took a proactive approach. She researched toxic exposure and took every possible precaution to relieve and prevent pollutants for Park. She altered his diet, administered heavy metal detoxes, and tried her best to protect him from the harsh Utah air. Soon, Park was making eye contact with Bridget again. He began to socialize and had a greater attention span. Bridget describes her son’s changes as “coming back”[ii] to her. While researchers believe there are a variety of causes for Autism Spectrum Disorders, the study ‘Ambient Air Pollution and Autism in Los Angeles County, California’ provides further evidence of environmental contributions to the onset of ASD. Bridget and Park’s story is hopeful, perhaps for prevention, but certainly for the easing of symptoms associated with ASD. To read me about Bridget’s detoxing strategies and success, click here. For the full report of research findings, click here.
[i] Becerra, Tracy A., Michelle Wilhelm, Jørn Olsen, Myles Cockburn, and Beate Ritz. “Ambient Air Pollution and Autism in Los Angeles County, California.”Environmental Health Perspective 121.3 (2013): 380-86. Mar. 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2013. <http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/pdf-files/2013/Mar/ehp.1205827_508.pdf>.
[ii] James, Bridget. “Autism, Air Pollution, And My Son.” Care2. N.p., 20 Apr. 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2013. <http://www.care2.com/greenliving/autism-air-pollution-and-my-son.html>.