From the upcoming February issue of Journal of Neuroimmunology:
Preliminary evidence of the in vitro effects of BDE-47 on innate immune responses in children with autism spectrum disorders.
This study looks at how BDE-47, a brominated flame retardant, effects the immune system of children with autism. Basically the authors extracted and isolated peripheral blood mononuclear cells from a group of 19 children with autism and a control group of 18 "typically" developing children and tested the immune response of these cells to BDE-47.
The results show that the cells extracted from the children with autism show a stronger immune reaction than the cells from the control group. The study suggests "a biological basis for altered sensitivity to BDE-47 in the ASD population" - or children with autism might be more sensitive to the stuff.
The downside here is that this is only a preliminary study and cells don't always react the same way in the body as they do in a test tube.
But still, this is one more small piece of evidence that the environment could play a role in autism.