Another day, and another 'study' reveals the 'risks' parents subject their unborn children to – this time connecting autism with busy roads.
US researchers claim to have found that autism is twice as likely in babies if their mum lives in a polluted area.
Experts say exposure to vehicle fumes and industrial air pollution dramatically increases a pregnant woman's chances of having a child with the condition.
The Harvard School of Public Health study found that the risk was double for children of women living in the most polluted locations.
The scientists undertaking the research analysed information on 325 women who had a child with autism, and 22,000 with children who did not have the condition.
They found a link between living somewhere with high pollution levels during pregnancy and going on to have an autistic child.
Commenting on the study, its lead scientist Dr Andrea Roberts said: "Our findings raise concerns since, depending on the pollutant, 20 of the women in our study lived in areas where risk of autism was elevated."
Senior author Dr Mark Weisskopf added: "Our results suggest that new studies should begin the process of measuring metals and other pollutants in the blood of pregnant women or newborn children to provide stronger evidence that specific pollutants increase risk of autism.
"A better understanding of this can help to develop interventions to reduce pregnant women's exposure to these pollutants."
The findings appear online today in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Its authors say that to their knowledge, the study is the first to examine the association between air pollution and ASD (autism spectrum disorder) across the United States.
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