Pre-natal exposure to some endocrine-disrupting chemicals linked with autistic behavior
A new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives shows that hormone-disrupting chemicals are linked to autistic behaviors. The inter-university collaborative research project specifically looked at gestational exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as some chemicals found in flame retardants and pesticides. Researchers hypothesized that hormones may play a part in autism development, because of the gender disparity between occurrence (boys are four times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with autism) and the fact that many hormones are known to control brain development. In this study, they tested levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in 175 pregnant women, finding that study subjects had an average of 44 of these chemicals in their systems. The children of these women who had higher levels of some endocrine-disrupting chemicals exhibited more autistic behaviors than children of women with lower chemical levels. While this study does not definitively link chemicals as an autism risk, it suggests that more research is needed to investigate the hypothesis further.