Women who are exposed to solvents at work are at higher risk of having a child with autism, research suggests. Picture: Pixabay

London - Women who are exposed to solvents at work are at higher risk of having a child with autism, research suggests.

Solvents are commonly used in cleaning fluids, such as carpet cleaner, and in the building trade. A study suggests they can be absorbed through a mother’s skin and lungs, which then affects a baby’s development.

"These results are consistent with earlier reports that have identified solvents as a potential risk factor for autism spectrum disorders," the US team wrote.

Autism covers a range of behavioural disorders that reduce the ability to relate to others. It is believed to occur when a combination of genetic and environmental factors affect the developing brain.

The Occupational & Environmental Medicine journal reported that researchers from the University of California, Davis, assessed the job history of parents of 537 children diagnosed with autism, along with those of 414 children with no neurological problems.

They found mothers of autistic children were 50 percent more likely to have been exposed to solvents at work than mothers of non-autistic children.

However, Professor Alastair Hay of the University of Leeds, said: "Larger studies, looking at specific solvents, are needed, as solvents exert their toxic effects in a wide variety of ways."

Daily Mail