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What explains the dramatic rise in autism prevalence (from one in 10,000 to 1 in 68)?: The hunt for environmental factors

Colloquium | March 7 | 4-5:30 p.m. |  2538 Channing (Inst. for the Study of Societal Issues)


Troy Duster

Emily Diamond, Professor, The Wright Institute

Institute for the Study of Societal Issues


Autism prevalence and other neurodevelopmental disabilities have markedly risen in the last 2 decades. Researchers around the world are looking for environmental factors. My project - the International Autism Mapping Project - tries to answer this question through geospatial mapping. Specifically, we examine the place of conception, and its nearness to various kinds of toxins. Since autism prevalence is not equal across all regions, this and other clues help us understand environmental factors better. For example, as our closest toxic exposures are household exposures, we wondered whether the pesticide implicated in the mass bee and pollinator die-off might be significant. Results from our California data will be discussed along with findings from our national study. The talk will close by considering the role of inequity in shaping environmental factors leading to autism, and the other studies we have planned.


issi@berkeley.edu, 510-642-0813