MONDAY, Sept. 26, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Short-term exposure to air pollution is associated with an increased risk for hospital admission for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children, according to a study published online Sept. 20 in BMJ Open.

Kyoung-Nam Kim, Ph.D., from the Ajou University School of Medicine Suwon, South Korea, and colleagues used data from the National Health Insurance Service for 2011 to 2015 to examine the effects of short-term exposure to air pollution on hospital admission for ASD among Korean children aged 5 to 14 years. Exposures were daily concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and ozone (O3) levels in each region.

The researchers found that the risks for hospital admissions for ASD were increased with PM2.5 levels at lag day 1, NO2 levels at lag day 5, and O3 levels at lag day 4. The mean daily count of ASD hospital admissions was 8.5; when the PM2.5 levels decreased by 10.0 µg/m3, NO2 by 10 ppb, and O3 by 10 ppb, the mean daily count was 7.3, 7.8, and 8.3, respectively. The weighted quantile sum index constructed from PM2.5, NO2, and O3 levels was associated with an increased risk for ASD hospital admissions; NO2 contributed most to the effects.

“These results emphasize that reduction of air pollution exposure needs to be considered for successful ASD symptom management, which is important with regard to quality of life and economic costs,” the authors write.

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