Study finds air pollution link for autism, schizophrenia

pollution (stock)

Researchers from the University of Rochester Medical School in New York exposed mice to pollutants and found telltale changes in their brains, linking air pollution to mental disorders including autism and schizophrenia. Their findings were published in Environmental Health Perspectives last week.

Initially, the researchers exposed certain mice to air pollution and then game them behavioral tests. The mice who'd breathed polluted air did worse on those tests than did those who did not. The effects were seen in both male and female mice.

From there, the research team exposed mice to pollution and then examined their brains. They found that the lateral ventricles were two to three times the normal size in those breathing pollutants. This enlargement of the brain's cerebrospinal fluid circulatory system are also often enlarged in humans with autism and schizophrenia as well as other, similar disorders. Further solidifying the link, the study says, the structures that link the left and right sides of the brain were also less developed in the pollution-breathing mice.

The animals used were exposed to pollution a few days after birth and examined both immediately after exposure and several months later, when the mice were near full development.

The pollution involved was similar to the ultra-fine particulate pollution often found in industrialized nations.


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