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A new study has shown that environmental pollution may be causing the changes in the brain that make people vulnerable to developing autism or schizophrenia.
This study was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
According to Fox News, researchers from the University of Rochester uncovered biological evidence that could possibly explain how pollution may put humans at higher risk for developing autism.
The team of researchers conducted experiments to observe how the effects of pollution on different groups of mice during critical times during the brain’s development. Each group was exposed to pollution that is the equivalent to pollution seen during rush hour.
After four-hour exposure to pollution during two four-day periods, those exposed to pollution experienced quite a bit of change in behavior compared to those living in an environment with filtered air.
“From a toxicological point of view, most of the focus of air pollution research has been on the cardiopulmonary system – the heart and lungs,” study author Deborah Cory-Slechta said. “But I think it’s becoming increasingly clear that the adverse things happening there are also happening in the brain, and this may be adding to risks for neurodevelopmental disorders like autism that we hadn’t thought about before.”
According to The Daily Mail, the changes seen in the mice directly after the experiment were also seen 270 days later, suggesting that the changes were permanent.
“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 Cory-Slechta.