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The CHARGE study, which stands for Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment, was launched in 2003 by researchers at the MIND Institute. It describes its goal as to research the role of gene-environment interactions in influencing autism risk.[1] Scientists involved in the research include Irva Hertz-Picciotto, who is the study's principal investigator. The study is funded by the National Institutes of Health.[2] Over 1,000 families have participated in the study. The children in the study are divided into three groups: children with autism, children with developmental delay, and children chosen at random from the general population.[3]


A number of peer-reviewed papers have been produced as a result of this study. They have concluded that:

  • There is an association between living near a freeway and risk of autism.[4]
  • No association was found between blood levels of mercury and autism among a group of children studied at two-to-five years of age.[5]
  • There is an association between exposure to traffic-related air pollution and autism risk.[6]
  • There may be a causative link between both exposure to air pollution, a variant in the MET receptor tyrosine kinase gene and risk of autism.[7]
  • Maternal use of folic acid supplements may be associated with a decreased risk of autism. However, the researchers cautioned that further research is warranted to confirm or refute this finding.[8]
  • Maternal fever during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of autism in her child.[9]
  • Gastrointestinal problems are significantly more common in children with autism than children without autism.[10][11]


  1. ^ CHARGE study homepage
  2. ^ The CHARGE Study
  3. ^ CHARGE study
  4. ^ Volk, H. E.; Hertz-Picciotto, I.; Delwiche, L.; Lurmann, F.; McConnell, R. (2010). "Residential Proximity to Freeways and Autism in the CHARGE Study". Environmental Health Perspectives. 119 (6): 873–877. PMC 3114825Freely accessible. PMID 21156395. doi:10.1289/ehp.1002835. 
  5. ^ Hertz-Picciotto, I.; Green, P. G.; Delwiche, L.; Hansen, R.; Walker, C.; Pessah, I. N. (2009). "Blood Mercury Concentrations in CHARGE Study Children with and without Autism". Environmental Health Perspectives. 118 (1): 161–166. PMC 2831962Freely accessible. PMID 20056569. doi:10.1289/ehp.0900736. 
  6. ^ Volk, H. E.; Lurmann, F.; Penfold, B.; Hertz-Picciotto, I.; McConnell, R. (2013). "Traffic-Related Air Pollution, Particulate Matter, and Autism". JAMA Psychiatry. 70 (1): 71–77. PMC 4019010Freely accessible. PMID 23404082. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.266. 
  7. ^ Volk, H. E.; Kerin, T.; Lurmann, F.; Hertz-Picciotto, I.; McConnell, R.; Campbell, D. B. (2014). "Autism Spectrum Disorder". Epidemiology. 25 (1): 44–47. PMC 4019012Freely accessible. PMID 24240654. doi:10.1097/EDE.0000000000000030. 
  8. ^ Schmidt, R. J.; Tancredi, D. J.; Ozonoff, S.; Hansen, R. L.; Hartiala, J.; Allayee, H.; Schmidt, L. C.; Tassone, F.; Hertz-Picciotto, I. (2012). "Maternal periconceptional folic acid intake and risk of autism spectrum disorders and developmental delay in the CHARGE (CHildhood Autism Risks from Genetics and Environment) case-control study". American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 96 (1): 80–89. PMC 3374734Freely accessible. PMID 22648721. doi:10.3945/ajcn.110.004416. 
  9. ^ Zerbo, O.; Iosif, A. M.; Walker, C.; Ozonoff, S.; Hansen, R. L.; Hertz-Picciotto, I. (2012). "Is Maternal Influenza or Fever During Pregnancy Associated with Autism or Developmental Delays? Results from the CHARGE (CHildhood Autism Risks from Genetics and Environment) Study". Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 43 (1): 25–33. PMC 3484245Freely accessible. PMID 22562209. doi:10.1007/s10803-012-1540-x. 
  10. ^ Chaidez, V.; Hansen, R. L.; Hertz-Picciotto, I. (2013). "Gastrointestinal Problems in Children with Autism, Developmental Delays or Typical Development". Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 44: 1117–27. PMC 3981895Freely accessible. PMID 24193577. doi:10.1007/s10803-013-1973-x. 
  11. ^ "Children who have autism far more likely to have tummy troubles". MIND Institute. 6 November 2013. Retrieved 22 December 2013.