"Children born to mothers who live close to freeways have twice the risk of autism, researchers reported Thursday. The study, its authors say, adds to evidence suggesting that certain environmental exposures could play a role in causing the disorder in some children.
'This study isn't saying exposure to air pollution or exposure to traffic causes autism,' said Heather Volk, lead author of the paper and a researcher at the Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles. 'But it could be one of the factors that are contributing to its increase.'
Reported cases of autism cases increased by 57% between 2002 and 2006, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although professionals still debate whether rates have actually risen or a greater proportion of autistic children is being diagnosed. An estimated 1 in 110 children is diagnosed with autism today. There is no cure, although research has shown that various therapies can mitigate some symptoms, especially if begun early in life."