News / Health

Air Pollution Linked to Autism, Schizophrenia, Study Finds

A mouse brain that was exposed to polluted air shows an enlarged lateral ventricle (right) compared with a mouse whose air was clean and filtered. Enlarged lateral ventricles are associated in humans with autism and schizophrenia. (University of Rochester Medical Center)
A mouse brain that was exposed to polluted air shows an enlarged lateral ventricle (right) compared with a mouse whose air was clean and filtered. Enlarged lateral ventricles are associated in humans with autism and schizophrenia. (University of Rochester Medical Center)
Art Chimes
There’s new evidence of a link between air pollution and some mental disorders, including autism and schizophrenia, say researchers who exposed mice to pollutants and found telltale changes in their brains.  
 
Scientists from the University of Rochester medical school in New York state outlined their findings in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, published online Thursday.
 
In initial studies, the researchers exposed certain mice to air pollution and then gave them behavioral tests.
 
Mice that breathed polluted air did worse on tests of mental functioning than mice that breathed clean air, said research leader Deborah Cory-Slechta, Ph.D. The ones exposed to pollution did worse in a learning test.  And the results were the same when they were tested for memory.
 
FILE: New research indicates that exposing laboratory mice to air pollution affects their brain development.FILE: New research indicates that exposing laboratory mice to air pollution affects their brain development.
x
FILE: New research indicates that exposing laboratory mice to air pollution affects their brain development.
FILE: New research indicates that exposing laboratory mice to air pollution affects their brain development.

“You could see again there were deficits in that short-term memory,” Cory-Slechta said. “And those we also saw in both males and females.”
 
Testing physical effects

The research team decided to see if the pollution was having any physical effect on the laboratory animals’ brains. So they launched a new study.
 
When they examined the brains of the pollution-breathing mice, they found the lateral ventricles – part of the brain’s cerebrospinal fluid circulatory system – were two to three times the normal size.
 
In humans, this enlargement is associated with autism, schizophrenia and more, Cory-Slechta said. “It is an indicator of poor development.  It is a prognosis for poor development of children with behavioral, IQ, cognitive, and other kinds of deficits that will persist.”
 
In addition, structures that communicate between left and right halves of the brain were not fully developed in the pollution-breathing mice.
 
The laboratory animals were exposed to polluted air just days after birth, and their brains were tested soon after. But the same impairment was found when the brains of several months-old mice were examined, indicating the damage does not go away.

Hazardous ultra-fine particles
 
The polluted air in this experiment was made up of ultra-fine particles, which are believed to be more dangerous because they are small enough to get deep into the lungs and into the bloodstream.
 
Cory-Slechta said her research may help explain why a number of other studies have shown a statistical link between air pollution and autism: “Our data basically, we think, provide a biological plausibility for that kind of association.”

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: marwa hassouna from: Egypt
June 07, 2014 11:14 AM
I think it's a great study and important as well because the behaviour of the children has already changed and the rate of Autism has been increased


by: Sam Brooks
June 06, 2014 9:29 PM
Of course pollution is going to cause more autism...it's common sense. But, specifically, it's low-dose radiation pollution that's causing about 80% of autism, and the physics of this is explained at www.WhyAutismHappens.com


by: Just Curious from: New Zealand
June 05, 2014 11:44 PM
What toxic chemicals were present in this ultrafine particulate matter? Are we just going back to 'miasma theory' now?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid