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Families With Autism-Related Genes Should Steer Clear of Cities

2013-12-02 08:44
Autism and cities

For families with more than one member diagnosed with autism, living in a city full of pollution might increase the risk of birthing children with similar diagnoses. Life in the city, with its lack of proper fresh air and congested lifestyle, only serves as an aggravating factor for the increase of individuals born on the spectrum.

When it comes to autism, many factors have been blamed for the increased risk and general cause of the genetic mutation which affects how children respond to everyday stimuli and function in society. Some have rather interesting and unique traits which allow them to see music or taste colors, while hearing words read. With all the changes being made to the DSM-V in defining and diagnosing autism, it is a wonder how parents are keeping up with the latest versions. It gets even harder to find or keep employment while caring for a child on the spectrum.

Certain foods have been named to help quell the worst of the meltdowns that accompany autism, while tips are offered from parents and organizations alike to help parents with techniques that would soothe their children's autism-related behavior. It may not be easy raising an autistic child, but living without them because of certain regretful and abhorrent decisions made would make life all the worse.

Why Should You Not Live in the City?

The latest study on autism by the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) has discovered a link between pollution levels, genetics and autism. With the research not due to publish before the January 2014 edition of the Journal of Epidemiology, a press release has been issued in its stead.

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According to Heather E. Volk, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of research in preventive medicine and pediatrics at the university, their research found that where high genetic risk individuals were exposed to high amounts of pollution, the birth of autistic children was much more common than when those same families were in an environment with low amounts of pollution. That is quite interesting and complicates life immensely as the more urban your area, the higher the amount of pollution an individual is constantly exposed to.

The study, one of the first linking pollution and autism, looked at 252 autistic children between the ages of 2 and 5. The MET gene, particularly linked to autism, was studied through blood samples and air pollution exposure measured by current location, past living conditions, mother's past residences, traffic pollution levels in the area, and regional air quality. Further studies are expected to look at mothers' exposures to pollution while pregnant.

Pollution not only increases risk of newborns on the spectrum, but also has many other negative consequences:

It is definitely easier to live in a city, where everything is underfoot and jobs are aplenty. The city provides a different atmosphere, full of noise and a hustle & bustle not found in the suburbs or small towns. Villages lack that environment completely but make up for it in other ways.

All in all, if there is a high risk of developing autism in one's family, it is probably a good idea to move to the suburbs, to higher plains or to towns and villages where traffic levels are low and pollution is less of a worry.

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