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Environmental pollution linked to autism, schizophrenia, study shows

Posted by on Monday, June 9, 2014, 11:47
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What is autism and schizophrenia?

autismAutism – Autism or autism spectrum disorder is a type of neurological disorder characterized by impaired verbal and non-verbal communication, social interaction and repetitive behavior. This disorder of neural development hampers the information process in the central nervous system or brain by affecting the neurons (nerve cells) and their connection and synapses. It usually affects the children under the age of three years with the signs of difficulties in attention and coordination, intellectual disability, and physical issues like gastrointestinal disturbances and sleep disorders.


What-is-autism-and-schizophreniaSchizophrenia: Schizophrenia is a serious brain disorder. This challenging neurological disorder is associated with abnormal behavior, and a person finds difficulty in distinguishing the real and the unreal things. The clinical features of schizophrenia usually occur in people between the age of 16 and 30 years, and men are more prone to this brain illness than women. The symptoms of schizophrenia are classified into three categories, viz. psychotic symptoms (hallucinations, delusions, strange movements and trouble in organizing thoughts), cognitive symptoms (trouble in paying attention, making decisions and using information) and negative symptoms (difficulty in emotional response, depression and isolation).


Environmental-pollution-linkedWhat is environmental pollution?

Environmental air pollution is the release of various dangerous chemicals and pollutants into the atmosphere. Common gaseous contaminants such as carbon monoxide and dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), smog, greenhouse gases, heavy metals and many such toxic elements are responsible for various health problems. Inhalation of these pollutants not only affects your respiratory system, but also affects overall brain development that can lead to certain neurological disorders.


Researchers-conclusionResearcher’s conclusion :

A lot of research has been conducted by different healthcare professionals to detect the epidemiological link between the environmental pollution and neurological disorders. The ongoing researches on this particular study helped many healthcare providers to determine the causes of brain disorders.

According to a study in 2013, few psychiatrists found that kids residing in areas that are exposed to high levels of environmental traffic pollution were detected with the brain or neuro-developmental problems.

Few well-known researchers from a renowned university explained the biological mechanism between the pollution and neurological disorders such as autism and schizophrenia. According to a notable author of environmental medicine, the researchers mainly experiment on the toxic effects of pollution on the heart and lungs, but they should also address the effects of the environmental toxins in the brain that can help us in detecting the causes of brain illness. The toxic effects in the brain can lead to neuro-developmental disorders such as autism in children.


Experiment-on-miceExperiment on mice:

A well-known professor of environmental medicine and her colleagues experimented with the effects of environmental pollution in a group of young mice who were under the process of normal brain development. A group of mice were exposed to environmental pollution levels equivalent to traffic pollution for a period of four hours each day. The experiment was conducted for two days. The researchers compared the group of mice exposed to pollution with the group of mice exposed to filtered air. The former group showed marked behavioral changes.

They also noticed weakened or deficit memory in both the male and female mice. They examined the brains of all the mice that were exposed to pollution, and detected enlargement and severe inflammation of ventricles i.e. the part of brain that contains cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).

In human beings, enlarged ventricles are termed as ventriculomegaly that can lead to neuro-developmental impairment. In addition, ventriculomegaly can also affect corpus callosum i.e. the white matter above the ventricles that joins the two sides of the brain. The damage to corpus callosum affects the cognitive behaviors such as social and emotional behaviors. Ventricular enlargement is seen in neurological diseases such as schizophrenia and autism.

The changes in brain were observed mostly in male mice, which indicate that males are more likely to suffer from schizophrenia and autism than females. In other words, environmental pollution causes inflammation of parts of brain that can damage the nerve cells leading to brain disorders.

As of now the exact etiology has not been discovered behind the causes of autism. Hence, researchers are determining the connection between the environmental pollution and autism to detect the possible causes that can help in preventing this brain disorder.

Hence, you should stay away from the environmental pollution or should try to protect yourself from air pollution that can affect your heart, lungs and brain function.