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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora