Greater chance of child having autism if their mothers smoked ..

April 1, 2009 - The study based on surveys that asked a variety of questions related to the indoor environment. Of the study's 4,779 children between the ages of 6 and 8, 72 had autism, including 60 boys. The researchers found four environmental factors associated with autism: vinyl flooring, the mother's smoking, family economic problems and condensation on windows, which indicates poor ventilation.

Children in the study also were twice as likely to have autism if their mothers smoked cigarettes. The autistic children also were more likely to have asthma.

Because their research was not designed to focus on autism, the researchers recommend further study of larger numbers of children to see whether the link can be confirmed. Several scientists who did not participate in the study cautioned that it has too many limitations to draw conclusions, but they suggested that new studies be designed to look for a connection between autism and indoor air pollutants.

Reference: Scientists Find 'Baffling' Link between Autism and Vinyl Flooring by Marla Cone and Environmental Health News, Scientific American, 3/31/2009.