Air Pollution and Autism: The Surprising Connection

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM Published on , Last Updated on


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by difficulties in social interaction, impaired verbal and non-verbal communication abilities, and repetitive and restrictive behaviors. Studies indicate that one out of 68 children have some form of ASD, and males are four times as likely to have this type of disorder as females. [1] Today, autism affects more than three million Americans and tens of millions of people worldwide. As rates of autism continue to climb, it’s becoming increasingly clear that there are a number of modern factors that may be contributing to the increase.

The Startling Truth about Air Pollution and Autism

Until recently, the cause of autism has been regarded as a mystery. Modern research has found evidence to suggest that the majority of autism cases are caused by a genetic predisposition. But according to a recent study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, exposure to high levels of air pollution during gestation can greatly increase the risk of developing ASD. [2]

Researchers found that children whose mothers were exposed to high levels of fine particulate pollution during their third trimester of pregnancy were twice as likely to develop autism. Their study focused on 1,767 children born from 1990 to 2002, 245 of whom had been diagnosed with autism. The researchers collected data on the pollution levels where their mothers lived during pregnancy, taking into account socioeconomic factors that can impact pollution exposure.

Results found that, while there was no association between autism and pollution before or after pregnancy, high levels of exposure to pollution during the third trimester specifically doubled the chance of autism. Researchers are unclear as to exactly how air pollution can contribute to autism, but many believe that the harmful particles may interrupt brain development.

Harmful fine particulate pollution can stem from a variety of sources, including motor vehicles, fires, and industrial smokestacks. While it may be difficult to completely avoid exposure to these types of particles, experts recommend that pregnant women avoid highly polluted cities and areas with a lot of traffic. Iodine deficiency has also been linked to autism in some cases. For this reason, many medical professionals recommend pregnant women to check their iodine status throughout their pregnancy.

The Take Home

It is important to keep in mind that exposure to pollution during pregnancy, by itself, does not cause autism. Rather pollution, when combined with genetic risk factors, may increase risk. If a child does not already have a genetic predisposition towards autism, the effect of pollution during gestation is likely to be slight or nonexistent.

What’s your take on the autism debate? Please let us know your thoughts on this controversial subject in the comment section below!

References (2)
  1. Centers for Disease Control. CDC estimates 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder. CDC Fact Sheet.
  2. Harvard School of Public Health. Exposure to high pollution levels during pregnancy may increase risk of having child with autism. Harvard News Release.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

  • Anonymous

    William Thompson PHD fraudulent researcher at The CDC has been left out of this discussion. He admitted last August 3014 that vaccines increased autism 340% and that his results for 10 years was fraudulent.. And Alex Jones left off that DR. Sherri Tenpenny is a DR. in the headline to create alarming reaction. What happened to truth and freedom of expression. Not on the step and fetch it of Alex Jones playing the party line of the # four cause of death in America which is legally prescribed drugs.

  • Hans de Rycke

    Autism has not one, but multiple causes, all related to immune responses. Allergies to dairy products seem to top the list of possible causes.
    Florida researcher, Robert Cade,M.D., and his colleagues have identified a milk protein, casomorphin, as the probable cause of attention deficit disorder and autism. They found Beta-casomorphin-7 in high concentrations in the blood and urine of patients with either schizophrenia or autism. (AUTISM, 1999, 3)
    And they were not the only ones!
    “The finding that some had opioid-like receptor binding was
    followed up by the finding that bovine casomorphins, opioid peptides from milk, were present in urine and dialysis fluid. It is known that casomophins and gluteomorphins are produced in the gut by proteinase digestion of milk and wheat proteins and that casomorphins can have been involved in post partum psychosis and hence penetrate the CNS.”

    “An increase in IgA antibodies was found in the blood of autistic
    children against gluten and casein.”
    (Reichelt KL, Knivsberg AM, Lind G, Nodland M. Probable etiology and possible treatment of childhood autism. Brain dysfunct 1991;4:308-319.)

    Panksepp J, Normansell L, Siviy St, Diruibe VA, Abbou-Issa H. Potential biochemical markers for infantile autism. Neurochem Pathol1986;5:51-70.

    Panksepp. A neurochemical theory of autism. Trends Neurosci

Top Selling Supplements

Colon Cleanser Oxy-Powder® is the top quality colon cleanser. Promotes optimal colon health and regular bowel activity. Learn More

Liver Cleanse Kit This complete liver cleansing kit is a comprehensive approach to cleansing your liver. Learn More

Get to know Dr. Group

  Our Company




  • Global Healing Center
    2040 North Loop West, Ste. 234
    Houston, Texas 77018
    Telephone: 713-476-0016
    Toll Free: 1-800-476-0016
  • Contact Us