26 April 2012

Top chemical suspects in autism identified

by Will Parker

US medical researchers have published their list of the top 10 chemicals believed to be implicated in autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Compiled by medicos from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, the report also calls for increased research to identify other suspect environmental toxins and the role they might play in the development of autism disorders.

It's estimated that a small percentage of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD) are caused by toxic exposures in the environment and 25 percent are caused by interactions between environmental factors and genetics.

However, the precise environmental triggers are not understood. While genetic research has demonstrated that ASD and certain other neurodevelopmental disorders have a strong hereditary component, many believe that environmental causes may also play a role. ASD and ADHD disorders affect between 400,000 and 600,000 of the 4 million children born in the United States each year.

The authors of the report hope the list will inform future research strategies to discover potentially preventable environmental causes. The top ten chemicals they identified are:

"A large number of the chemicals in widest use have not undergone even minimal assessment of potential toxicity and this is of great concern," says report co-author Philip Landrigan, of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "Knowledge of environmental causes of neurodevelopmental disorders is critically important because they are potentially preventable."

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Source: The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine