Scientists Claim Air Pollution Is Linked to Hospital Admissions of Autistic Children

The rise in the Earth’s temperature has created a domino effect and caused aggravation in particular issues. Air pollution is a societal issue immensely impacting climate change and impacted by climate change. With frequent wildfires caused by heat waves, air quality has decreased. Forests are ecosystems that supply the planet with air, and large portions of those areas have been destroyed by humans and wildfires. This strongly deteriorates the air quality that people breathe every day.

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People are increasingly becoming exposed to air pollutants — making humankind more prone to various diseases. Pollution has become an ongoing threat, and scientists continue to discover other possible effects of the problem. Recently, a study came out that claims that air pollution is a huge factor in why autistic children get admitted to hospitals. Exposure to contaminated air, even for a brief time, aggravates ASD symptoms. Issues such as hyperactivity, aggression, or self-injury can lead to hospital admission. The research also suggests that pollutants highly affect young boys more than girls.

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There are existing studies that show air pollution is a contributor to ASD development during the early postnatal period. Researchers have also analyzed the effects of being exposed to pollution for a long time on pregnant people. This time scientists worked on brief exposure to contaminated air and its impact on those with ASD. According to their observations, short-term contact can result in systemic inflammation and neuroinflammation. The potential risk is due to the fact that a child’s brain is more vulnerable to environmental exposure than adult brains.

The information used to conduct the study was from official government data, including hospital admissions of autistic children ages five to fourteen from 2011 to 2015. Scientists from South Korea, who led the research, also gathered records of daily levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and ozone (O3) in 16 regions. Turns out those contents play a huge role in the increase of autistic children admitted to hospitals.

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“These results emphasize that reduction of air pollution exposure needs to be considered for successful ASD symptom management, which is important with regard to quality of life and economic costs,” the team explained. “Because this is the first study on this subject, further studies, especially studies directly investigating ASD symptoms in more detail, are warranted to confirm the results and draw policy implications.”

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The study was conducted by researchers from the Institute of Public Health and Medical Care in Seoul National University. Their work was published in the online journal BMJ Open, and the team will share further findings in the future.

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