Study: Certain Kids’ Autism Risk Increases in High Pollution Areas
Children with the MET gene who are exposed to high air pollution have a greater risk of developing Autism Spectrum Disorder, according to a new study by the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine, KPCC's "Pass/Fail" reports.
For the analysis, USC researchers studied 408 children between the ages of two and five. More than 50% of the children had some form of autism.
Researchers used blood samples from the children to determine if they carried the MET gene.
According to "Pass/Fail," the researchers then combined the data with an estimated pollution exposure reading based on traffic patterns from where the children and their mothers had lived.
The study found that children who carried the MET gene and lived in areas with high pollution were three times more likely to develop autism than children who did not carry the gene and did not live in a high pollution area.
These findings corroborated earlier findings by USC researchers Heather Volk and Daniel Campbell, who determined a link between autism and pollution.
Campbell -- the new study's lead author -- said, "Although gene-environment interactions are widely believed to contribute to autism risk, this is the first demonstration of a specific interaction between a well-established genetic risk factor and an environmental factor that independently contribute to autism risk" (Fernandes, "Pass/Fail," KPCC, 12/5).
In a release, Campbell added, "It will be important to replicate this finding [in future studies] and to determine the mechanisms by which these genetic and environmental factors interact to increase the risk for autism" (Trinidad, USC Keck School of Medicine release, 12/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.