Children who breathe in toxic air may be at a higher risk of growing up with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), new research suggests.
Researchers discovered youngsters living in highly polluted parts of Shanghai have a 86 per cent greater chance of developing ASD.
The scientists, based at Monash University in Australia, said children are most at risk in their first three years of life.
Lead author Dr Yuming Guo said: ‘The developing brains of young children are more vulnerable to toxic exposures in the environment.’
ASD is the name for a range of conditions, including Asperger syndrome, that affect a person’s social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour.
Figures estimate about one in every 100 people in the UK has ASD, and more boys are diagnosed with the condition than girls.