07/09 via JS
In the new study led by Carl-Gustav Bornehag of Karlstad University, Swedish families were asked questions about flooring as part of research investigating allergies and indoor air pollutants as phthalates, used to make soft plastic, which have, in previous studies, been connected to allergies and asthma. ‘Intriguingly and bafflingly’ the study also suggested that there could also be a connection between autism and vinyl flooring although, because their research was not designed to focus on autism, the researchers recommend further study of large numbers of children to see whether the link can be confirmed.
The study was based on surveys that asked a variety of questions related to the indoor environment. Of the study's 4,779 children between the ages of six and eight, 72 had autism, including 60 boys.
The researchers found four environmental factors associated with autism: vinyl flooring, the mother's smoking, family economic problems and condensation on windows, which indicates poor ventilation. Infants or toddlers who lived in bedrooms with vinyl, or PVC, floors were twice as likely to have autism five years later, in 2005, than those with wood or linoleum flooring. Children in the study also were twice as likely to have autism if their mothers smoked cigarettes. The autistic children also were more likely to have asthma.
The scientists reported that they do not know if asthma and autism are related, or whether phthalates contributed to the risk of autism by some other mechanism, such as disruption of hormones.
Click here for more research reports on possible causes of autism
First Published in July 2009
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