Floored about autism

Swedish scientists may have discovered a link between vinyl floors and autism. Their almost accidental findings came up during an investigation into allergies and indoor air pollutants, according to Environmental Health News. Swedish families were asked about flooring as part of the research. Infants or toddlers whose bedroom floors were vinyl rather than wood or linoleum were twice as likely to have autism five years later. Of the 4,779 children between age 6 and 8 studied, 72 had autism, 60 of whom were boys. The children were also twice as likely to have autism if their mother smoked cigarettes.

Vinyl can emit phthalates, which are chemicals used to make soft plastic that have also been connected to allergies and asthma. The scientists, lead by Carl-Gustav Bornehag of Karlstad University in Sweden, call the data “far from conclusive” and say further studies with a larger group of children are needed to confirm a link.