Autism Possibly Linked To Parents’ Exposure To Solvents

Autism is being potentially linked to parental exposure to solvents, including lacquer, varnish, and xylene. A newly published study, conducted by research epidemiologist, Erin McCanlies of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) revealed that these exposures could be involved in autism diagnoses, said PsychCentral. The exploratory study found that additional research is needed to confirm the possible link.

McCanlies found that exposure to these solvents was greater in parents whose children were diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), versus parents of unaffected children, said PsychCentral. Also, parents of children with ASD, were also likelier to report exposure to asphalt and solvents, versus parents of unaffected children.

We’ve long explained that reports of ASDs are on the rise, in part because of better diagnostic tools, but many have long believed the increase could be due to environmental exposures. The origins of autism have long been questioned and critics have blamed PCBs; mercury; vaccinations; pesticides; pollution; high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which was found in two studies to contain mercury. ASDs include not only autism, but also Asperger’s syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified, and involve issues with social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors.

PsychCentral pointed out that ASD, which involves an array of developmental conditions remains a mystery concerning its causes. And, while ASDs can be potentially linked to genetics, studies have suggested that ASDs can also be caused by environmental or parental occupational exposures, said PsychCentral.

NIOSH researchers used data from the Childhood Autism Risk from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) study at the UC Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento, California, said PsychCentral. The team reviewed if parental occupational exposure to chemicals could be linked to their children’s ASD. The study involved 174 families; 93 children were diagnosed with ASD and 81 were not. Parents participated in telephone interviews to assess exposures during the three months before conception, during pregnancy, and up to birth (or weaning if the child was breastfed), said PsychCentral, which said industrial hygienists also conducted independent assessments.

“Overall, these results add to the mounting evidence that individual exposures may be important in the development of ASD,” McCanlies said. “Additional research is required to confirm and extend these initial findings,” she added, said PsychCentral. The pilot study appears online in Springer’s Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

We recently wrote that a Danish study revealed additional evidence that fetal exposure to Depakote, specifically its active ingredient, valproate, increases a baby’s risk of developing ASD three-fold. Depakote, approved for the prevention of migraines, treating acute manic episodes in bipolar patients, and halting seizures in adults and children, has been associated with birth defects when taken by pregnant women.

We have also written that another study of mothers taking Zoloft, Prozac, or other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) during pregnancy revealed that children were twice as likely to be diagnosed with autism or autism-related disorders and children exposed to SSRIs in the first trimester of pregnancy experienced a four-fold likelihood of developing an ASD. That study appeared in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

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