Two recent studies have found that babies and young children may experience serious health problems, such as autism and diabetes, due to air pollution.Researchers from Harvard University’s School of Public Health found that pregnant women exposed to high levels of diesel particulates or mercury were twice as likely to have an autistic child, compared with pregnant women in low-pollution areas. The results published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives reflect the largest U.S. study to examine the ties between air pollution and autism.
Another new research paper published in the journal Diabetologia of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes found that children growing up in areas with high air pollution have a higher risk of insulin resistance (the precursor to diabetes).
According to Sarah Vogel, director of Environmental Defense Fund’s Health program, both of these studies provide even more evidence that chemical exposures early in development can significantly increase our risks for serious chronic diseases later in life. “We’re seeing evidence of this in animal studies of chemicals, some of which have been associated with increased risk of neurodevelopmental problems, obesity (so called obesogens), and diabetes.”