More Chemicals Linked to Child Brain Disorders

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A new study out of Harvard has identified six new chemicals that may be related to spikes in brain disorders in children. Researchers are concerned that toxic chemicals may be part of the rise in autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and dyslexia diagnoses over the past few decades.

The study, published this weekend in the journal Lancet Neurology, has labeled new chemicals a "developmental neurotoxicants" that can cause brain defects in children. The newly labeled chemicals include manganese, chlorpyrifos, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), tetrachloroethylene, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and fluoride. According to the study, Manganese is possibly linked to "diminished intellectual function and impaired motor skills," tetrachloroethylene is possibly a cause of "hyperactivity and aggressive behavior," and DDT and chlorpyrifos could be related to "cognitive delays."

These chemicals join five other chemicals that researchers found to be developmental neurotoxicants back in a 2006 study. Those chemicals include lead, methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, arsenic, and toluene.

"The greatest concern is the large numbers of children who are affected by toxic damage to brain development in the absence of a formal diagnosis," said Dr. Philippe Grandjean, lead author of the study and a professor of environmental health at the Harvard School of Public Health. "They suffer reduced attention span, delayed development, and poor school performance. Industrial chemicals are now emerging as likely causes."

Grandjean and his colleagues believe that these chemicals and possibly more may be having a negative effect on the brains of children, thereby damaging society as a whole. He and his co-authors are calling for expanded testing for industrial chemicals, as well as international laws that can help curb the use of such products.

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