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Researchers: autism and pollution link

Rochester, NY -   Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center say they have discovered a link between air pollution and disorders such as autism and schizophrenia. 

A study in mice found air pollution early in life produces harmful changes in the brains, including an enlargement of part of the brain that is seen in humans who have autism and schizophrenia.

As in autism and schizophrenia, the changes occurred predominately in males.  

The mice also performed poorly in tests of short-term memory, learning ability and impulsivity.

Our findings add to the growing body of evidence that air pollution may play a role in autism, as well as in other neurodevelopmental disorders, said Deborah Cory-Slechta, PH.D, professor of Environmental Medicine at the University of Rochester and lead author of the study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Researchers exposed mice to levels of air pollution typically found in mid-sized U.S. cities during rush hour.

The exposures were conducted during the first two weeks after birth, a critical time in the brains development.

 I think these findings are going to raise new questions about whether the current regulatory standards for air quality are sufficient to protect our children, said Cory-Slechta. 

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Washington Times