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Last Edited: 4/21/2015

Particulate Matter Exposure, Prenatal and Postnatal Windows of Susceptibility, and Autism Spectrum Disorders
Written: 06/08/14

In collaboration with researchers in North Carolina, we investigated recent evidence suggesting that exposure to traffic-related air pollutants, including particulate matter (PM), is associated with autism spectrum disorder (autism).  By using data from previous autism surveillance activities in both states and a selection of births from state birth records, the study team identified 979 children with autism and an additional 14,666 children not receiving services for autism as a comparison group. 

We estimated risks of autism in offspring for increasing levels of PM10 at the birth residence, within 3-month periods from before conception through the child's first birthday, also taking into account birth year, state, maternal education and age, race/ethnicity, neighborhood-level urbanization and median household incomes, and season of birth.

We found higher risks with PM10 levels in the third trimester of pregnancy. Our study confirms previous work done in California showing a relation between traffic-related air pollution and autism, adding similar findings in an eastern US state and identifying a potential susceptibility period.


PubMed Link



Suggested Citation

  • Epidemiology. 2015 Jan;26(1):30-42. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0000000000000173.