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Autism and Toxic Chemicals: Is There a Link?

07.21.11 Autism and Toxic Chemicals: Is There a Link?

1 in 110:  These are the staggering odds that a child born in the United States will be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

$3.2 Million:  This is the average cost to care for a child diagnosed with autism over the course of his or her lifetime.

Have you noticed that children across the country are being diagnosed with any one of the various autism spectrum disorders at unprecedented rates?  It’s, frankly, rather scary.  Twenty years ago, the word Autism wasn’t a regular part of our vocabulary.  Today it is a real and present concern which begs the question, what has changed?

Recently, CNN Health published an article titled, “Scientists Warn of Chemical – Autism Link.”  There is widespread belief amongst the scientific community that autism is triggered by a genetic component.  Scientists now question whether there could be a link between susceptible genes and chemical exposure.

According to the Autism Society, chemicals that are being treated for safety are not being tested for health affects related to long term exposure.  At the heart of this article is the question of how a mother’s exposure to toxins may impact the development of her fetus, thereby placing the unborn child at a higher risk of eventually being diagnosed with autism. 

The central nervous system of a fetus is very sensitive to a whole host of chemicals.  Proper brain development depends on estrogens and androgens (such as testosterone) – hormones produced by the mother which facilitate healthy development.  Endocrine disruptors, such as Bisphenol-A (BPA) and flame retardant chemicals (BPDE’s) interfere with the mother’s natural estrogens – the same estrogens that are working in the brain development of the fetus.

There is also concern about the use of antimicrobials which are found in products such as antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers.  These chemicals artificially enhance androgenetic material which also plays an important role in brain development.

Whether there is a direct correlation between a mother’s exposure to toxins while her child is in utero and a later diagnosis of autism remains unclear.  However, here at MightyNest we believe in playing it safe and that it’s worth limiting your exposure to chemicals and other harmful toxins as much as possible.

Posted in: Chemicals
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