GFCF Recipes

GFCF Recipes

11.09.2006

The cause of autism?

This likely is interesting to anyone reading this blog. It might explain why you have to eat this way. This article ran worldwide and you can easily find it on the web. I've reposted the version from the Globe and Mail.

Chemicals may be damaging kids' brains
SHERYL UBELACKER
Canadian Press

Environmental exposure from hundreds of industrial chemicals could be damaging the developing brains of children worldwide, but few of the potentially toxic compounds are regulated because too little is known about their effects, researchers say.
In a paper published on-line today in The Lancet, two specialists in environmental medicine (each of whom has spent decades studying the effects of lead and mercury exposure on fetuses and children) compiled a list of 201 industrial chemicals they say have the capacity to cause irreparable damage to the developing human brain.
Lead author Philippe Grandjean, chair of environmental medicine at the University of Southern Denmark, said he and co-author Philip Landrigan of New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine had similar experiences while studying the neurotoxicity of lead and mercury.
"First, things were seen in adults," he said, then in children exposed in early childhood, or those whose mothers were exposed during pregnancy. "And then we wondered: Is this only happening with mercury and lead?" Dr. Grandjean said in a telephone interview from Copenhagen.
The two researchers undertook an extensive review of published data on chemical toxicity to create a list of those agents most likely to harm the developing brain. Their tally of 201 compounds includes everything from arsenic to benzene and phenol. About half the chemicals are ubiquitous in industrial processes and products and could make their way into the environment through air, water and food.
But because there is a dearth of research on the effects of these chemicals specifically on children, their use has not been regulated in the same way as mercury, lead and PCBs.
The researchers argue that the lack of international regulation is putting children around the globe at potential risk, and they worry whether exposure to such chemicals could be behind such conditions as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. (The causes of these conditions remain unknown.)
Calling the potential for harm a "silent pandemic," the researchers are urging governments worldwide to begin strictly controlling these chemicals, instead of waiting for years of testing to provide definitive scientific proof that they are either harmful or benign.
"What we are saying is we cannot afford to wait decades because that way we will expose another generation of children to toxic chemicals that will affect their brains permanently," Dr. Grandjean said. "We cannot afford to do that."
But Warren Foster, director of the Centre of Reproductive Care at Ontario's McMaster University, said there is no data to support the idea that chemical exposure is harming children or that conditions such as autism are caused by such pollution. While Dr. Foster has high regard for the two researchers and calls the goal of their review "lofty," he said their suggestion that industrial chemicals are causing neurotoxic effects in fetuses and young children is "a hypothesis that requires testing."
"The kids actually have to be exposed," Dr. Foster said. "Simply because things are in the environment does not necessarily mean that children are exposed, or are exposed to the concentrations necessary to create the neurotoxicity."
"I don't think it helps them to create fear when we don't have evidence of a problem."
Still, Dr. Foster concedes that until there is definitive evidence of their effects, people should be cautious in limiting exposure to industrial chemicals -- for instance, by not heating food in margarine tubs that can produce harmful compounds.
However, he's more concerned that governments could start banning chemicals based on insufficient data, only to replace them with compounds about which nothing is known.
"We still need coolants, we still need plasticizers, we still need flame retardants, we still need solvents," he said.

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