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Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008 Nov;162(11):1026-34. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.162.11.1026.

Autism prevalence and precipitation rates in California, Oregon, and Washington counties.

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  • 1Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate empirically the possibility of an environmental trigger for autism among genetically vulnerable children that is positively associated with precipitation.

DESIGN:

We used regression analysis to investigate autism prevalence rates and counts first in relation to mean annual county-level precipitation and then to the amount of precipitation a birth cohort was exposed to when younger than 3 years, controlling for time trend, population size, per capita income, and demographic characteristics. In some models, we included county fixed-effects rather than a full set of covariates.

SETTING:

Counties in California, Oregon, and Washington.

PARTICIPANTS:

Children born in California, Oregon, and Washington between 1987 and 1999. Main Exposure County-level precipitation.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

County-level autism prevalence rates and counts.

RESULTS:

County-level autism prevalence rates and counts among school-aged children were positively associated with a county's mean annual precipitation. Also, the amount of precipitation a birth cohort was exposed to when younger than 3 years was positively associated with subsequent autism prevalence rates and counts in Oregon counties and California counties with a regional developmental services center.

CONCLUSIONS:

These results are consistent with the existence of an environmental trigger for autism among genetically vulnerable children that is positively associated with precipitation. Further studies focused on establishing whether such a trigger exists and identifying the specific trigger are warranted.

Comment in

PMID:
18981350
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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