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Monday, April 3, 2023


 In The Politics of Autism, I discuss various ideas about what causes the condition

Zeyan Liew and colleagues have an article at JAMA Pediatrics titled "Association Between Estimated Geocoded Residential Maternal Exposure to Lithium in Drinking Water and Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder in Offspring in Denmark." Key Points:

  • Question  Is maternal prenatal exposure to lithium in drinking water associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in offspring?
  • Findings  In this Danish nationwide population-based case-control study, the study team found that maternal exposure to higher levels of residential lithium in drinking water during pregnancy was associated with a moderate increase in ASD risk in the offspring. The findings remained robust after adjusting for several maternal neighborhood socioeconomic factors and air pollution exposures.
  • Meaning  This study suggests that naturally occurring lithium in drinking water may be a novel environmental risk factor for ASD development that requires further scrutiny.

Lithium joins a very long and growing list of other correlatesrisk factors, and possible causes that have been the subject of serious studies:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease;
  • Pesticides;
  • Air pollution and proximity to freeways;
  • Maternal thyroid issues;
  • Autoimmune disorders;
  • Induced labor;
  • Preterm birth;
  • Fever;  
  • Birth by cesarean section;
  • Anesthesia during cesarean sections;
  • Maternal and paternal obesity;
  • Maternal diabetes;
  • Maternal and paternal age;
  • Grandparental age;
  • Maternal post-traumatic stress disorder;
  • Maternal anorexia;
  • Smoking during pregnancy;
  • Cannabis use during pregnancy;
  • Antidepressant use during pregnancy;
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome;
  • Infant opioid withdrawal;
  • Zinc deficiency;
  • Sulfate deficiency;
  • Processed foods;
  • Maternal occupational exposure to solvents;
  • Congenital heart disease;
  • Insufficient placental allopregnanolone.
  • Estrogen in the womb;
  • Morning sickness;
  • Paternal family history;
  • Parental preterm birth;
  • Antiseizure meds
  • Location of forebears