Environmental Factors Strongly Linked To Autism, Intellectual Disability Cluster: Study

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In a new study it is found clustering of intellectual disability (ID) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is on the rise across United States and it appears to be linked to environmental factors.

The study was conducted based on analysis of insurance claims of 100 million patients in America and apart from environmental factors it is co-related to economic incentives, but to a lesser extent, at the state level that affect diagnosis.
The team of researchers used male congenital malformations for the primary exposures to environmental insults like sex hormone analogs, plasticizers, medication, lead and pesticides as these plays a role in the causation of ID and ASD.

Co-author of the research Andrey Rzhetsky said ASD incidence increased by 283 percent for each 1 percent rise in malformations incidence.

Rzhetsky is from University of Chicago. He added in female too reproductive malformations were similarly predictive, but in a very smaller level.

Researchers also found the incidence of ID and ASD also differed across ethnic groups. The Pacific Islanders were at lower risk for both the diseases.

Rzhetsky and his colleagues created a statistical baseline frequency of the two diseases and looked for the actual rates of disorders from insurance records. They found per-capita income didn’t co-relate with the incidence of ID and ASD where as urbanization led to higher risk. A increase of urbanization by just 1 percent increased the risk by 3 percent for both the diseases.

National Institutes of Health and Lever Award from the Chicago Biomedical Consortium supported the new study.