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Autism risk is increased by air pollution and genetics combined

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Autism is a very troubling disorder that devastates families. Understanding the possible causes of autism may help to prevent this disorder. Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) reported in a news release on Dec. 2, 2013, air pollution and genetics together increase the risk for autism.

According to research led by scientists at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, exposure to air pollution appears to increase the risk for autism among people who carry a genetic disposition for the neurodevelopmental disorder. Heather E. Volk, PhD, MPH, the lead author of the study, has said, “Our research shows that children with both the risk genotype and exposure to high air pollutant levels were at increased risk of autism spectrum disorder compared to those without the risk genotype and lower air pollution exposure.”

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke defines autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as consisting of a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders. These disorders are characterized by communication difficulties, social impairments, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior. Impaired social interaction is the hallmark feature of ASD. A baby suffering from ASD may be unresponsive to people. The link between genetic autism risk and air pollution is compelling and should alert parents to be careful about this risk factor.



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