New study reveals two common environmental chemicals may impact autism development

Research conducted by Brown University in Rhode Island has isolated two common chemicals used in fire retardation and pesticides that are thought to contribute to the development of autism during Gestation.

PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenyl, specifically PBDE-28) are thought to play a part in disrupting hormone pathways which are intrinsic in brain development in the developing embryo. The study showed that children born to mother exposed to these chemicals during pregnancy showed slightly higher autistic traits. Very few researchers in the field have previously looked at the effect of specific chemicals on autism development.

One in 62 children develop autism or autistic traits during childhood, and scientists have suspected that hormones play an intrinsic part in the onset of autism due to the fact that boys are four times more likely to gain a diagnosis than girls.

Researchers tested urine and blood samples from 175 pregnant women in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area. On average, the pregnant women had 44 suspected hormone-disrupting chemicals in their blood or urine, according to the peer-reviewed study published online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Mothers also filled in behaviour related questionnaires when the children were 5.

Those exposed to PBDE-28 scored an average of 2.5 points higher on the scale than children whose mothers had the lowest exposures.

For the full paper click here.