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Posted by2 months ago

Air pollution may worsen autism-related hospital admissions. Autistic children seem to be at heightened risk of being admitted to hospital if they are exposed to air pollution for relatively brief periods, with boys more at risk than girls, suggests research.

22 comments
95% Upvoted
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· 2 mo. ago · edited 2 mo. ago

Someone correct me if I'm wrong or misunderstanding the study, but it seems as though they just analyzed how many autistic children were admitted to the hospital during a given time period, while also analyzing pollution levels in the area. Does this mean all children who had autism were admitted specifically for respiratory issues that were directly caused by acute exposure to airborne pollutants? This seems like correlation rather than causation, no?

52
level 1

Wildly unsurprising tbh: autism can heighten personal sensitivity to disfavorable stimuli. Neurotupical adults typically have a significant level of tolerance for mild to moderate discomfort and good regulation of their emotional responses to that discomfort. One of the common traits among autistic people is poor emotional self regulation due to uncomfortable sensations, and much lower threshholds for certain stimuli to become overwhelming.

Because of this it stands to reason autistic people are far more likely to be distressed by such stimuli enough to warrant feeling like they need to go to a hospital.

So this probably just means neurotypical people (primarily neurotypical men) are more likely to power through warning signs and discomfort due to air pollution (without going to a hospital), and autistic people aren't as likely to power through that, they might be more likely to seek needed medical care.

Edit: just to be clear these are useful findings and validate much of what we know about autism imo. This is not me dragging the study, I just think these findings shouldn't surprise anyone.

34
level 2

It's not just stimuli. There is a roughly one in ten chance that Autism is comorbid with mast cell activation syndrome. And that means that a person can have an allergic reaction without actually being prominently allergic to something.

7
level 1

This is a Korean study btw, here's the link to the original paper's pdf and the abstract:

https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/bmjopen/12/9/e058286.full.pdf


Abstract

Objectives This study explored the effects of short-term exposure to air pollution on hospital admissions for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a proxy for symptom aggravation, among Korean children aged 5–14 years.

Design Time-series study.

Setting, participants and outcome measures We used data from the National Health Insurance Service (2011–2015). Daily concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ozone (O3) levels in each region were used as exposures. ASD cases were defined based on a principal admission diagnosis of the claims data. We applied distributed lag non-linear models and a generalised difference-in-differences method to the quasi-Poisson models to estimate the causal effects of air pollution for up to 6 days. We also performed weighted quantile sum regression analyses to assess the combined effects of air pollution mixtures.

Results PM2.5 levels at lag day 1, NO2 levels at lag day 5 and O3 levels at lag day 4 increased the risks of hospital admissions for ASD (relative risk (RR)=1.17, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.25 for PM2.5; RR=1.09, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.18 for NO2 and RR=1.03, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.06 for O3). The mean daily count of hospital admissions for ASD was 8.5, and it would be 7.3, 7.8 and 8.3 when the PM2.5 levels would be decreased by 10.0 µg/m3, NO2 by 10 ppb and O3 by 10 ppb, respectively. The weighted quantile sum index, constructed from PM2.5, NO2 and O3 levels, was associated with a higher risk of hospital admissions for ASD (RR 1.29, 95% CI 1.14 to 1.46), where NO2 was found to contribute to the effects most (the weight of 0.80).

Conclusions These results emphasise that reduction of air pollution exposure should be considered for ASD symptom management, with important implications for the quality of life and economic costs.

8
level 1

Thank the spirits I was born in a rural area

2
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Did they control for the known uncertainty regarding male/female autism rates?

It's been known for a while that female autism rates are wildly under-diagnosed, due in part to a variance in the symptoms, as well as cultural perceptions of "normal" or "desirable" behavior for male and female children.

4
level 1

Autistic? Or Asthmatic? MASSIVE difference, guy.

3
level 2

I mean if I felt like my breathing was hindered in any way id want to seek medical help. Shits not normal and I agree with another comment relating to autistic people having a lower tolerance of discomfort.

3
level 1

Is the massive increase of the diagnosis of autism,asthma, allergies etc to do with the advancement of medical technology ot the effects of the modern environment? I would err towards the latter.

0
level 2

The former with autism for sure. Allergies are a probable yes as well--we've gone from feeding people things that they may be allergic to and watching what happens to giving them blood tests and narrowing it down from there.

3
level 1

I know it fucks me up.

1
level 1
level 2

No, the information presented is suggesting that air pollution exacerbates symptoms and increases discomfort in people with ASD more acutely than otherwise normal people would experience.

12

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