Utilization of the Navigation Guide to Understand Environmental Exposures and Risk of ASD

Investigator: Tracey Woodruff, PhD, MPH
Sponsor: Autism Speaks

Location(s): United States


The goal of this project is to translate environmental health research into improved health and policy outcomes related to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). A fundamental impediment to evidence-based decision making related to environmental exposures and ASD is that individuals and populations impacted by ASD and policy makers are confronted with a plethora of information, some contradictory, about exposure to environmental factors and whether they are risk factors for ASD, and this information lacks a concise, transparently-derived and evidence-based "bottom-line" about the meaning of the science. To address this unmet need, this project aimsto:

1) Apply the Navigation Guide to answer one or more health-impacted population-relevant question(s) about the link between the environment and ASD;

2) Transfer knowledge of Navigation Guide systematic review methodology to Autism Speaks’ scientific collaborators and stakeholders; and

3) Disseminate the findings in clinical and policy arenas.

These studies will result in a concise and transparently derived statement of the strength of the evidence, i.e., there is “sufficient human evidence that exposure X increases risk of ASD”; and increase knowledge and awareness among Autism Speaks’ stakeholders and collaborators of the utility of the Navigation Guide methodology for answering questions about the links between the environment and ASD. In summary, this project aims to generate a robust and transparent tool for evidence-based decision making regarding the environment and ASD.