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New study links high pollution levels to autism, findings a cause for concern for Indian parents

Our national capital is undergoing the worst of times. New Delhi is now the most polluted city in the world, a title that gives us plenty to worry about. According to experts, the pollution levels in the city have shot up to 20 times more than the permissible levels after burning firecrackers for Diwali. The city is now covered in hazardous smog for the past few days and it is only going to get worse.

Apart from the impact on our lungs and cardiovascular health, a recent study now says children from birth to up to three years are have higher chance of getting autism when they are exposed to dust and pollutants. Even mothers exposed to pollution during pregnancy have a higher risk of giving birth to a child with autism.

The study was conducted by a group of researchers in Australia. It says children have 78% higher chance of developing autism from even vehicle exhausts and other pollutants. The study was conducted on over 1,000 children in Shanghai, China, one of world's most polluted cities.

Dr Itishree Gupta from Kochi, says there is enough data to show pollution harms the brain cells.

Pollution affects the brain cells in numerous ways. One of the main ones being cutting the oxygen supply. Autism is the condition of brain and it can affect children when they are prone to excessive pollution. The chemicals in pollution are harmful in many ways for children with and without disabilities. Now since studies have backed this up, parents have to be really war. y- Dr Itishree Gupta

Most times, parents are unaware of the dangerous effects of pollution on their children. It is not just smoke from vehicles, dust particles and firecrackers that cause pollution. Burning of fossil fuels and other industrial processes are major worries as well. Many children are forced to breathe this toxic air.

Experts point out that children's brains are extremely vulnerable. Being exposed to pollution can affect this in numerous ways.

Suba Rajesh's son Ritwik has autism. Just like any other mother, she is worried about the pollution levels in our cities.

"My son is allergic to dust, and he has a cold almost every day. This is really disheartening because pollution also plays a major role in this. At the same time I must say that schools are including lessons to make children aware about pollution. My second son, who is in class 6, is getting tips about protecting the environment", says Rajesh.

ALSO READ: Tips to make road trips fun for your child with autism

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