Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Study Links Autism to Environment

Environment, in this case, meaning compounds and chemicals present in flame retardants, insecticides, and household items such as pet shampoo and antibacterial soap, that many children and/or expecting mothers come into regular contact with.

The study, published in the journal Epidemiology, compares autism diagnoses in California in 1990 to those reported in 2006. 3,000 new cases were reported in 2006, compared with 205 in 1990. In 1990, 6.2 of every 10,000 children born in the state were diagnosed with autism by the age of five, compared with 42.5 in 10,000 born in 2001 and apparently the numbers have continued to rise since then. This article in Scientific American does a fine job explaining the elimination of variables, or rather the improbability of certain causes such as vaccines, genetics or migration pattern.

I'd like to point out another environmental factor: According to the American Lung Association, Los Angeles, California has the worst air quality in the country thanks to the worst traffic congestion, worst air pollution (special shout out to China), and the largest active landfill in the U.S. Whether or not this is a factor in the rise of autism is beyond me of course but it seemed like a good time to mention it. Hopefully these researchers and their findings will remind the general population of our connectivity - of the link between what we consume, finance, use and discard and our health.

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