Study links air pollution to autism


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DENVER -- One in 68 children is diagnosed with autism according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Researchers have looked into everything from diet to genetics to try to unlock the mystery of the disease.  Now a  new study from the Harvard School of Public Health shows women exposed to high levels of air pollution during pregnancy face up to twice the risk of having an autistic child -- though it's not known why.

Dr. Doug Fairbairn, of the Inner City Health Center, warns that pregnant women who live in areas with high levels of pollution shouldn't panic

“We continue to deliver, ninety percent of the time, mentally and physically healthy babies through a regular pregnancy so to worry about that is a stress on the infant itself,” Fairbairn said.

The Environmental Protection Agency said the size of particles in the air are what make pollution dangerous.  The smaller the dust particles, the easier it is for them to enter the lungs.

While cities across the front range often rank high when it comes to ozone, Denver gets a B grade on the American Lung Association's clean air report card when it comes to particle pollution.

That grade can fluctuate, especially during the summer months, so doctors advise any woman who is pregnant or has asthma (or any other respiratory problem) to keep windows closed, use an air system filter and avoid spending long periods of time outside when pollution levels are high.

The Colorado Department of Public Health ranks provides daily air quality rankings for the front range, visit

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