Environmental contributions to autism: Explaining the rise in incidence of autistic spectrum disorders

Scott, James G., Duhig, Michael, Hamlyn, Jess, & Norman, Rosana E. (2014) Environmental contributions to autism: Explaining the rise in incidence of autistic spectrum disorders. Journal of Environmental Immunology and Toxicology, 1(2), pp. 75-79.

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Abstract

The incidence of autism spectrum disorders, a heterogenous group of neurodevelopmental disorders is increasing. In response, there has been a concerted effort by researchers to identify environmental risk factors that explain the epidemiological changes seen with autism. Advanced parental age, maternal migrant status, maternal gestational stress, pregnancy and birth complications, maternal obesity and gestational diabetes, maternal vitamin D deficiency, use of antidepressants during gestation and exposure to organochlorine pesticides during pregnancy are all associated with an increased risk of autism. Folic acid use prior to pregnancy may reduce the risk of autism. Exposure to antenatal ultrasonography, maternal gestational cigarette and alcohol use do not appear to influence the risk of autism in offspring. There is little evidence that exposure to environmental toxins such as thimerosal, polybrominated diphenyl ethers and di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate in early childhood increases the risk of autism. Apart from birth complications, the current evidence suggests that the majority of environmental factors increasing the risk of autism occur in the antenatal period. Consistent with the rise in incidence in autism, some of these environmental factors are now more common in developed nations. Further research is required to determine how these environmental exposures translate to an increased risk of autism. Understanding how these exposures alter neurodevelopment in autistic children may inform both the aetiopathogenesis and the strategies for prevention of autism.

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ID Code: 84191
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Autism, Environmental Risk Factors, Children
DOI: 10.7178/jeit.7
ISSN: 2225-1219
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Mental Health (111714)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 STM Connect
Deposited On: 18 May 2015 23:41
Last Modified: 19 May 2015 22:56

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