Study: Link between living near a freeway and developing autism - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Study: Link between living near a freeway and developing autism

LOS ANGELES (NBC) - According to a new study, living within three blocks of a freeway may make a child more at risk of developing autism.

"Children living near a freeway were twice as likely to develop autism," said Dr. Heather Volk, part of the team of researchers that conducted the survey.

Other studies have shown that pollution decreases blood supply to the brain, which would explain these findings from the University of Southern California's Children's Hospital Los Angeles and the University Of California Davis.

Earlier research also shows that the same pollution may cause developmental delays in newborns and more asthma flare-ups for kids.

Margarita Gevondyan, who has an autistic son and lives about 400 meters from a freeway, said the information from this study arms parents with more information and hope of prevention.

"A lot of us who have kids on the spectrum believe there's a link with toxins in the environment," she said. "Our kids weren't born this way. Something is hurting our kids, so this is a big piece of the puzzle."

But some doctors caution against drawing conclusions about autism too soon.

"It's the proximity to the freeway," said researcher Dr. Larry Yin. "But we also need to know: Are those pollutants moving into the home? Are they in the backyard? Is it the pollution, noise? Is it the stress of living near a freeway?"

Doctors also said there is no need to panic.

Most kids born near freeways do not get autism, although they do have more lung problems than others who are born far from pollution.

Copyright 2010 NBC. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly