Pregnancy is a very exciting time in any parent-to-be’s life. There’s so much to look forward to, but there’s also a lot of dangers to be aware of.
We’re not just talking about the normal dangers that parents have had to consider for decades. We’re talking about a nearly inescapable environmental hazard: the effects that air pollution has on your unborn child for years to come.
Fine particulate matter is what’s to blame. This matter is made of toxic particles dispersed into the air that are so light and so tiny (less than 2.5 microns in diameter) that they float right into our airways.
And there’s a chilling connection between autism and pollution.
Pregnancy, Autism and Pollution
Pregnant women exposed to high levels of fine particulate matter may be doubling their chances of having an autistic child (when compared to women that live in areas with low particulate matter).
The studies tracked women before, during and after their pregnancies. But researchers said the third trimester is a particularly sensitive time during the baby’s brain and cognitive development.
It’s not totally clear how fine particulate matter might be causing autism. But, many are contaminants that can penetrate cells and disrupt the development of the brain and the immune system.
There is also evidence that exposure to dense air pollution even in early childhood can increase the chances of developing autism.
300 million children live in areas with toxic air pollution.
Something as healthy as biking or playing outdoor sports can cause children to breathe in harder. Those kids then take in more fine particulate matter as they aspirate.
Where Does Air Pollution Come From?
We know what you’re thinking. You’re asking, “Do I live in a heavily air-polluted area?”
Well, there are many factors that cause fine particulate matter to find its way into our air. The first is pretty obvious: diesel exhaust.
Cars are a notorious polluter and one study done in Los Angeles found that living closer to a highway, increased the occurrences of autism by 12-15%. So it’s fair to say that living in a city puts you at a higher risk.
The coal-burning industry is another big contributor to the particulate matter polluting our air. While coal consumption is seemingly on the decline these days, it still produces a consequential amount of air pollution.
China is particularly dependent on burning coal and there are many studies that show an increase in autism rates there, as well.
Believe it or not, wood-fired cooking is also a big factor. Cooking with wood and burning it in general releases lots of fine particulate matter into the air. So, if you live by a wood-fired pizza or bagel place, it might be time to think about relocating or investing in a proper air filter.
But it’s not as simple packing up your bags and moving away from big cities or prevalent polluters. The world is one big air-sharing sphere of interdependence.
Air doesn’t stay in one place. It’s blown across the globe in an atmospheric circulation pattern, often perpetually bringing one area’s pollution to another.
In fact, there’s evidence that shows a part of California’s famously smoggy air is coming all the way from China.
Plus, there are countless pollutants that enter our air from natural sources like wildfires and volcanic eruptions. So, unless you can predict random natural disasters, there’s no way to ensure your home is somewhere that’s free of air pollution.
Even something as inconsequential as cooking with the gas or electric range in your kitchen creates particulate matter that you and your family is inhaling on a daily basis.
It’s Not Just Air Pollution
The connection between pollution and autism isn’t solely linked to air pollution. There’s evidence that they may be a link to water pollution, as well.
But microplastics and pollutants don’t have to make their way into our drinking water if we use a high-quality water filter. Don’t fall victim to the assumption that bottled water is any safer since there are many chemicals proven to be lurking inside.
Plus, the plastic bottles break down and end up back in our groundwater. It’s a vicious pollution cycle. So, invest in a good reusable bottle, keep it clean and make sure you invest in a thorough water filter.
Water pollution is a factor that’s a bit easier to work around than figuring out how to get around, well… breathing air.
How to Address Pollution and Autism
So how can you get ahead of air pollution autism?
Well, you could try the new cutting-edge fabric curtains called GUNRID. The fabric breaks down indoor air pollutants, making sure your sanctuary stays as free from fine particulate matter as possible.
More importantly, it’s time to up your filter game. There are high-quality filters that can safeguard you and your family. Find the right filter to mitigate the environmental pollution factors around your home. It’s an important step. There are many to choose from that will keep you, your family and your unborn children safer from outdoor air pollution.
The more we know about how autism and pollution are related, the more we’ll be able to do about it. While scientists work hard to keep uncovering the connections between pollution and our health, you can make sure you’re doing everything to keep you and your family’s risk as low as possible.