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AMA Journal Publishes Study Showing Evidence of a Major Environmental Trigger For Autism
Date:11/3/2008

t will generate a lot of discussion in the clinician and patient communities. Clearly, further study is required, especially given that many of the possible environmental triggers discussed may be avoidable or correctable."

The researchers discuss several possible environmental triggers related to higher levels of precipitation, including increased rates of early childhood television and video viewing, increased rates of vitamin D deficiency, and an increased exposure to chemicals used in household cleaners that children who spend more time indoors would likely experience. The research team plans to conduct further statistical studies aimed at identifying which of these possibilities are actual triggers for autism.

The study involved analyzing data from counties in the states of California, Oregon and Washington, and it found that county-level, school-age autism prevalence rates and autism prevalence counts are positively associated with a county's average annual precipitation. Additionally, analysis showed that within a county, autism prevalence rates and autism prevalence counts were higher for age groups that were exposed to more precipitation prior to the age of 3. The findings -- based on a statistical estimate of how many autistic children in the sample were diagnosed with autism due to the added or incremental exposure to the possible environmental triggers related to precipitation -- suggest that as many as 30 percent or more of autism diagnoses may be due to an environmental trigger or triggers related to levels of precipitation where the children live.

The study refines previous research on autism conducted by this team. Their latest report considers a specific hypothesis -- that there exists an important environmental trigger for autism among genetically predisposed children that is positively associated with levels of precipitation -- and solidifies the need for further research focused on identifying what the exact environmental tri
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SOURCE Cornell University
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