by Lynne Peeplesat Huffington Post
Posted: 05/24/2012 8:02 pm
While pregnant with her son Edgar, Melissa Wolfe followed the lead of many a cautious woman before her. She took prenatal vitamins and ate organic vegetables. She avoided dyeing her hair and using hairspray. She even went as far as to leave the kitchen whenever someone turned on the microwave.
“I was very vigilant. Perhaps a little crazy,” said Wolfe, of Brentwood, N.H.
Yet Wolfe still fears that her 4-year-old’s autism may have resulted from chemicals infiltrating her womb, whether components of her migraine medicine, contaminants brought home from her husband’s work installing rubber flooring, or remnants of the remodeling the couple did on their house.
Melissa Wolfe with her son, Edgar.
The remodeling “created even more chemicals that I was breathing while pregnant,” she said. Wolfe also wonders if her father’s exposure toAgent Orange during the Vietnam War, which the government has now blamed for his prostate cancer, might be somehow connected to her son’s disability.
To date, science has not directly linked any of these environmental exposures with any of the disabling behavioral and cognitive conditions that fall along the autism spectrum. But rising rates of autism along with the increasing breadth and reach of synthetic chemicals — some of which are known to be toxic and most of which we know near nothing about — raises questions for which scientists are beginning to offer a few answers.
As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in April, autism now affects an estimated one in 88 kids. Among boys, the burden is even higher: about one in 54. And the ramifications of the rise go beyond the child, the family and even the school. In decades to come, individuals with autism are now expected will account for one in 88 adults, meaning society will pay the price in terms of lifetime care and other medical expenses. All told, managing autism already costs the country $35 billion a year.
Researchers sense the urgency. Many are now investigating factors that might help curb the epidemic. This generally means looking beyond genetics, the avenue of investigation that has consumed most of the government’s funds and researchers’ time over the last several years.
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- CEHC develops list of ten chemicals that contribute to autism, learning disabilities | The Autism News (throughthepuzzle.wordpress.com)