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Environmental Causes of Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders

For many years, autism research has focused on genetic factors. But researchers estimate that "the total fraction of ASD attributable to genetic inheritance may be about 30–40%." Now many are calling for more extensive research of environmental factors, including the tens of thousands of untested chemicals that individuals are exposed to via consumer products as well as the environment at large (air, water, soil). The brains of embryos and fetuses are believed to be especially susceptible to toxic chemicals. A workshop of leading researchers convened by the Mount Sinai Children's Environmental Health Center, with support from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and Autism Speaks, generated a list of "10 chemicals and mixtures widely distributed in the environment that are already suspected of causing developmental neurotoxicity":
  1. Lead
  2. Methylmercury 
  3. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  4. Organophosphate pesticides 
  5. Organochlorine pesticides 
  6. Endocrine disruptors 
  7. Automotive exhaust 
  8. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons 
  9. Brominated flame retardants 
  10. Perfluorinated compounds (Teflon)

Read more about sources of these 10 chemicals in this post from Moms Clean Air Force.

What You Can Do Now

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