Air Pollution by Motor Exhaust, Maternal Obesity and Diabetes Linked to Autism

Emobileclinic  Researchers’ Corner

Autism Linked to Air pollution, Obesity & Diabetes

The causes of autism have been attributed to both environmental and genetic factors and so many studies have pointed to air pollution i.e. maternal exposure to air pollution as one of the causes.

Researchers tried to analyze which of the elements pollute the air most and is likely to cause Autism. A recent research understudy data from ‘the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hazardous air pollutant models, distance to freeway or local models for specific pollutants’. This study suggests a likelihood of autism with exposure to diesel particulate matter. The study analyzed 116,000 pregnant women and their level of exposure to polluted air during pregnancies and after childbirth. The inhalation of fine particulate matter has become very worrisome in the sense that they can penetrate deep into the lungs.


‘Vehicle exhaust and other combustion byproducts are high in fine particulate matter. So the greatest exposure tend to occur near busy roadways’ .The study found that children who were born to mothers exposed to more fine particulate pollution especially during third trimester were twice likely to develop autism. The higher the exposure the higher the risk of having a child with autism. This exposure was not noticed after birth during the early months of the child. Researchers also found a little connection with exposures to large particulate like dust, mold etc. Dr. Paul Wang; a consultant pediatrician said the research is very important because it was able to narrow down the time when autism could occur. ‘..In particular, they suggest that exposure during pregnancy, as opposed to early life, is most critical’. Dr. Wang notes that the research was however not able to show how pollution ‘exerts its effects on the developing brain’.

Another study also linked the higher risk of autism to obese and diabetes mother .The combination of these two forces have been identified to increase the autism birth in these women by 4%. The researcher studied 2700 mothers and babies and found out that the presence of either Obesity or Diabetes increases the chances twice. In U.S,1 in 68 children is affected by autism and researchers have shown that one third of women in their reproductive rate are obese in U.S while about 10% are affected with diabetes. An expert said this new research result is expected with the increase in obesity and diabetes among our women in reproductive age. Prior to the research, gestational diabetes or overweight in pregnancy has always been a serious medical issue.

The study however did not prove that obesity and diabetes caused autism, they are only associated to it. In the research, about 4% of the babies had autism while another 5% suffers from one mental disability and another one-third had one form of developmental disability or the other.

The state of mother’s well-being definitely affects the fetus. It is important to be extremely careful in pregnancy. Mothers-to-be need to prepare their body well before getting pregnant to limit health challenges for their child sake.

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