April is National Autism Awareness Month, and today is World Autism Day. A recent survey finds that 1 in 50 children in America between the ages of 6 and 17 is on the autism spectrum — which is an alarming and unusually high increase from previous years. Now, we may have some more clues as to what is causing the dramatic increases. The Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center (CEHC) has released an informative list of the top ten toxic chemicals suspected to cause autism and learning disabilities. The toxic list, published in Environmental Health Perspectives was compiled by Dr. Philip J. Landrigan, director of the CEHC, Dr. Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), and Dr. Luca Lambertini, also of the CEHC. Discover the top ten chemicals thought to be associated with both autism and learning disorders in children after the jump.

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The top ten chemicals thought to be associated with both autism and learning disorders in children, include the following:

This isn’t the first report to point out that environmental toxins may be to blame for autism. In The Autism Puzzle, journalist Brita Belli also looks at the environmental toxins linked to the autism debate. Other research has linked smoking during pregnancy to Asperger’s disorder and other forms of high-functioning autism, while still other research shows a connection between prenatal chemical exposure and autism. While currently there’s not a supported concrete cause of autism, plenty of other research has also discussed the possible and growing link between autism and chemicals. For example, the Autism Society notes that factors beyond genetic component may be contributing to the rise in increasing occurrences of autism, including environmental toxins such as heavy metals like mercury, as they’re now more prevalent in our current environment than in the past. According to the new report this top ten list, “Is not exhaustive and will almost certainly expand in the years ahead as new science emerges.” The main point of the new list is to help focus research regarding environmental causes of autism and learning disabilities which in turn may help support new evidence-based programs for prevention of disease in America’s children.

+ Environmental Causes of Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (pdf)

+ Autism Society’s Environmental Health Project (pdf)

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