Study finds toxic chemicals linked to autism, ADHD

Julia Medew

Leading chemical experts are calling for a radical overhaul of chemical regulation to protect children from everyday toxins that may be causing a global ''silent epidemic'' of brain development disorders such as autism, dyslexia and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

A review published in The Lancet Neurology on Saturday said current regulations were inadequate to safeguard foetuses and children from potentially hazardous chemicals found in the environment and everyday items such as clothing, furniture and toys.

Philippe Grandjean from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and Philip Landrigan from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York said that, in the past seven years, the number of recognised chemical causes of neurodevelopmental disorders doubled from six to 12.

These include lead, arsenic, pesticides such as DDT, solvents, methylmercury that is found in some fish, flame retardants that are often added to plastics and textiles, and manganese - a commonly mined metal that can get into drinking water.

The list also controversially includes fluoride, a mineral found in water, plants and toothpaste.

Article here

The authors, Drs. Philippe Grandjean MD and Philip J Landrigan MD write in their study's summary/synopsis the following:

Neurodevelopmental disabilities, including autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, and other cognitive impairments, affect millions of children worldwide, and some diagnoses seem to be increasing in frequency. Industrial chemicals that injure the developing brain are among the known causes for this rise in prevalence. In 2006, we did a systematic review and identified five industrial chemicals as developmental neurotoxicants: lead, methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, arsenic, and toluene. Since 2006, epidemiological studies have documented six additional developmental neurotoxicants—manganese, fluoride, chlorpyrifos, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, tetrachloroethylene, and the polybrominated diphenyl ethers. We postulate that even more neurotoxicants remain undiscovered. To control the pandemic of developmental neurotoxicity, we propose a global prevention strategy. Untested chemicals should not be presumed to be safe to brain development, and chemicals in existing use and all new chemicals must therefore be tested for developmental neurotoxicity. To coordinate these efforts and to accelerate translation of science into prevention, we propose the urgent formation of a new international clearinghouse.

To read the full study go to The Lancet Neurology

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