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School and Program Updates

School and Program Updates

Johns Hopkins: Wendy Klag Center To Lead Autism Research Study in Beijing

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Wendy Klag Center for Autism & Developmental Disabilities will lead an autism research study in Beijing, China, that explores the neurologic development of children born around the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when air pollution was tightly controlled. The study will explore the potential for reducing early-life air pollution exposure as a public-health intervention to reduce risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Dr. Li-Ching Lee, a psychiatric epidemiologist with the Bloomberg School’s departments of epidemiology and mental health and co-director of the Wendy Klag Center, is the principal investigator for the five-year, $2.8 million China project. The project is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

China took major steps to improve air quality for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, ordering industries to cut emissions and restricting auto traffic July 20 to Sept. 19, 2008. The Olympic and Paralympic Games ran August 8 through Sept. 17, 2008. Pollution control measures ended Sept. 19, 2008. Prior studies from the U.S. and Europe suggest that prenatal air pollution exposure and exposure during early infancy increase risk for ASD.

Investigators will estimate the prevalence of ASD in Beijing among children who were in utero before, during and after the Olympic period. This will involve screening more than 18,000 children born in the months before and nearly a year after the temporary pollution controls.

Collaborating institutions include Peking University, Emory University and Duke University.

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