With awareness of autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities rising up, a new study by The Lancet Neurology has some very disturbing news. According to the study, the number of industrial chemicals which is related to the development of neurodevelopmental disabilities, like for example, autism has increase twice-fold in the last seven years.

Researchers believe that the increased rates of being diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder) and autism worldwide is due to the pervasive exposure of children to chemicals. They also believe that we now have a silent epidemic of individuals with disabilities in the neurodevelopmental area, a chilling thought.
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What are the Chemicals Linked to Autism?

Researchers have added the following 6 toxins to the list of chemicals which are believed to be posing a threat to the brains of young children and fetuses:

  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers
  • Dichlorodiphenyl-trichloroethane or DDT
  • Tetrachloroethylene
  • Chlorpyrifos
  • Fluoride
  • Manganese

What Makes Them Dangerous?

Though fluoride and manganese are commonly found in drinking water and are generally not found in high concentrations to be a health threat, the chilling truth is that the other chemicals listed above are much more common and widespread, and yes, even in the home.

Lets Talk about These Chemicals One by One

Polybrominated diphenil ethers used to be present in common house furnishings, like couches because of its primary use as a flame retardant.

Dichlorodiphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) is still found in the soil and water all over US as well as in imported vegetables and fruits. It is a pesticide which has been banned in the US for quite a while now.

Tetrachloroethylene is a common solvent which is used in dry cleaning. It has been linked to increased risk of being diagnosed with a psychiatric condition as well as having a deficient neurological function.

Chlorpyrifos was banned in the US for household use 10 years ago. It is an organic pesticide that is still being used extensively in the farming of a lot of vegetables and fruits, as stated by Dr. Philip Landrigan from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in NYC, the study’s co-Author.

These 4 chemicals, together with manganese and fluoride has been added to the list of 5 other neuro toxins identified in 2006 by Dr. Landrigan and Dr. Phililipe Grandjean of the Harvard School of Public Health.  The other 5 neuro toxins are polychlorinated biphenyls, lead, arsenic, methylmercury, and toluene.

What Harm Does Chemicals Do to the Developing Brain?

Landrigan notes that infants’, developing fetuses’ and young children’s neurological health is more under threat by industrial chemicals than that of an adult and below is the explanation.

The first few weeks of pregnancy is the time when an embryo forms the cells and structures that would later become the spinal cord and the brain. This means that this crucial time is when the young person’s central nervous system is being formed and if some of the chemicals somehow gets into the developing brain, whether it may be methylmercury or lead, it can disrupt the processes in the brain’s development or can even kill young brain cells. When this happens, irreversible damage occurs as the brain’s cells do not regenerate once they die. Landrigan says that this can lead to a reduced intelligence or shortened attention span.

Researchers do know that the increase in conditions like autism and ADHD could be related to an increase in awareness about them, it is not difficult to see that other factors could also be related.

Landrigan says that they noted an increase in the diagnoses of neurodevelopmental conditions related to the increased production and release of synthetic chemicals into the environment over the last 4 to 5 decades. He also says that their research shows that there is a direct link showing how the chemicals he listed has been linked to the neurodevelopmental problems in children.

How to Decrease the Effects of These Chemicals?

At present time, the US has no specific means to know the possible health effects of substances before they make their way to the marketplace, says Landrigan. He also says that this problem must change to decrease the levels of toxins in the surroundings.

Though Landrigan suggests more means to decrease the chances of the chemicals from affecting the brain and neurodevelopment of foetuses, infants, and young children in his study, what we can do as consumers is to be mindful of health news like this and take a proactive role in protecting our children and ourselves.

With the increasing number of safe products in the market, there is no excuse to continue risking your health or your children’s health. Cheers to protecting your divine right to health!




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