Autism and early exposure to traffic pollution linked?

So where was all the autism from, say, 1940-1980 when U.S. air was not nearly as clean as it is today? In the 1950s and 1960s, Los Angeles air often hit ozone levels of 500 ppb — compare with today’s worst case levels of about 90 ppb. Pittsburgh-area air could contain more than 500+ micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter 50% of the time — compare with today’s worst-case of maybe 40-50 micrograms per cubic meter. Ouch, it must hurt epidemiologists to think. [Los Angeles Times]

11 thoughts on “Autism and early exposure to traffic pollution linked?”

  1. One other thing to consider. Since far fewer people die in infancy or early childhood, a fair proportion of the ‘new diseases’ have emerged simply due to survivor effects.

  2. tadchem. I agree. The rise in autism is most likely the result of the second law of thermodynamics (increasing disorder) on our genes. Also I think the psycho industry may be re-defining it to pump their business. I see kids diagnosed as autistic that are quite normal to all apperances.

  3. Between changes in diagnostic criteria for autism, Asperger’s and pervasive developmental disorders, and changes in screening methods, it’s nearly impossible to compare autism-spectrum rates even between decades like the 1980’s and this decade, let alone across fifty or a hundred years. That makes any attempt to assess causes very difficult and doubtful.

  4. Since high traffic rates will always coincide with high population rates, I fail to see how any human condition could avoid being associated with it.

  5. My father (born in 1920) was an Aspie, just as my son and I are, although Dad died before autism diagnoses became fashionable. I will never be convinced that anything other than genetics is the key factor.
    There have been many people with Asperger’s who lived long before internal combustion engines existed.
    What we are seeing in this report is classically called the Fallacy of Accident, wherein coincidence is mistaken for a causal relationship.

  6. obviously, for the sake of the children, they ought to cease using any internal combustion engine or boiler in LA to totally stop NOx and other combustion pollutants.

  7. The dutch meteo claims that the surface there is heating more since the air is cleaner then ever before. But autism rates stay the same or increase.

  8. “Those come at a time when the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder in U.S. children has skyrocketed. In the last six years alone, it has increased 78%.”
    I wonder if the definitions in the american psychiatric manual have inversely followed the trend in pollution?

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