Kids Near Freeway May Have Greater Autism Risk Study suggests air pollution could be a factor By John Johnson, Newser Staff Posted Dec 18, 2010 4:51 PM CST 12 comments Comments Traffic moves along the 405 Freeway near the Brentwood section of Los Angeles (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) (Newser) – Add this to the autism mix: A study of kids in California found that those who lived near freeways at the time of their birth—as in, about 1,000 feet—had twice the risk of developing the disorder. Researchers aren't making any definitive claims, but they say the study lends credence to the notion that environmental factors play a role. Time has more on the research, first reported in the Los Angeles Times. "This study isn't saying exposure to air pollution or exposure to traffic causes autism," says the lead author from the Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles. "But it could be one of the factors that are contributing." The increase applied only to freeways, not major roads, suggesting that the toxic mix produced by hundreds of thousands of cars were to blame, she said.