In Monday's Healthier Me, new findings suggest that children who live near busy roads or freeways are at a greater risk for developing autism, which affects 1 out of every 88 children.
These findings are part of new research from the Department of Epidemiology at the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA.
Lead researcher, Dr. Beate Ritz: "What we found was an 8 to 10 percent increase in autism due to traffic-related pollution."
The study -- which looked only at publicly available data and involved no interviews -- tracked results from air monitors around Los Angeles County twice a year over the last three years. This information was then linked to birth certificates addresses and Calif. Department of Developmental Services records on assistance to families with autism.
Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson is the mother of 11-year-old Wyatt, who has autism. She runs ACT Today, which provides costly -- but needed -- services for autistic children and their families.
Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson: "I can't tell you what we've been through over the last seven years, and if this information helps other moms out there, oh, I pray that that's so."
While the study did not designate specific regions where the link of pollution and autism was most prevalent, it discovered that women with less education and fewer health resources tended to live in the high-pollution communities. Researchers admit certain pollutants could play a role in brain development, but that does not yet prove that being exposed to air pollution contributes to the development of autism.