With autism now affecting 1 out of every 88 American children, researchers have been scrambling to understand how, in just 10 years, these numbers have jumped a staggering 78 percent, and why ADHD now affects 14 percent of children in the U.S. It was once believed that genetics was the major contributing factor to these illnesses, but that belief is quickly changing as the numbers of children diagnosed with autism and ADHD are skyrocketing. More and more, it is believed that environmental factors play more of a role in autism than genetics do.Now let's do some edits.
With autism now affecting 1 out of every 88 American children...
1 in 88 kids with or without an official diagnosis now described as autistic by researchers doing a study on autism
researchers scrambling to understand how..these numbers have jumped a staggering...
while psychiatrists and psychologists are scrambling to narrow the definition of autism that ballooned in the 90s
It was once believed that genetics was the major contributing factor to these illnesses but that belief is quickly changing...
to the belief that changes in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual may be a contributing factor in the development of illnesses
More and more, it is believed that environmental factors play more of a role in autism than genetics do...
especially by researchers studying environmental factors.
Friends, that's just the intro to the fear-mongering collection of claims accompanied by a riveting slideshow of low-budget stock photos because who would want to read about household toxins poisoning children without some pictorial relief. The topic is just not dramatic enough and what's our new media without a slide-show.
You can probably guess a lot of the chemical culprits:
Endocrine Disrupters (aka BPA)
Methylmercury (Beware that sushi)
Perfluorinated Compounds (non-stick pans, fabric protectors)
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (aka PCBs)
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (burning meat, cigarette smoke, mothballs)
Who created the list? A panel of environmental researchers and autism activists who then published the Toxic Top Ten in an editorial in an environmental health journal this past summer:
To begin formulation of a systematic strategy for discovery of potentially preventable environmental causes of autism and other NDDs, the Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center, with the support of the NIEHS and Autism Speaks, convened a workshop on “Exploring the Environmental Causes of Autism and Learning Disabilities.” This workshop produced a series of papers by leading researchers, some of which are published in this issue of Environmental Health Perspectives. It also generated a list of 10 chemicals and mixtures widely distributed in the environment that are already suspected of causing developmental neurotoxicity.
Note the description of these substances as "suspected of causing developmental neurotoxicity."
However frightening the chemicals sound, they have not been directly linked to autism or ADHD. At least not yet. We don't have evidence that these or really any one of them cause autism or attention deficit disorder or any other neurodevelopmental condition that is sure to capture the attention of parents out there. But why should that stop us from speculating? We're only presenting important information to the public.
Don't even think about char-broiling those burgers tonight.
A Research Strategy to Discover the Environmental Causes of Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities, Environmental Health Perspectives, April 25th online edition