(NaturalNews) More and more over the past 25 years, brominated flame retardants have been used in home furnishings and electronics to slow down fires. These chemicals are now routinely found in household dust, food, air and in the umbilical cords of newborns.
In a recent study, scientists are reporting that environmental toxins and genetics can work together to create autism symptoms in mice prenatally exposed to a flame retardant. Genetically predisposed female mice were less social and had impaired memories and learning skills after their mothers were exposed to a brominated compound known as a PBDE. PBDEs have been accumulating in the environment in lock-step with the accelerating rise in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
This study linked genetic and behavioral changes to a flame retardant chemical and a specific gene mutation found in Rett's syndrome - a condition on the autism spectrum that primarily affects females with significant deficits in social behaviors and communication. An individual with genetic risks for other health-related problems or diseases may also be more sensitive to these environmental chemicals than the overall general population.
PDBEs attack on the thyroid
Halogens consist of bromine, chlorine, fluorine and iodine which are all similar in atomic structure. PBDEs are made from bromine and have a similar chemical structure to iodine in thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones act in every cell in the body to perform a wide-ranging role in metabolism, growth and overall development. PBDEs interrupt thyroid function, causing changes in brain development. Mouse studies show early life exposure to PDBEs increases hyperactivity, impairs learning and alters motor development.
The brain cells in autism are sensitive to thyroid hormone regulation and can be adversely affected by PBDEs.
Recently, the Schafer Report and the CDC announced a staggering new figure of 1 in 91 children now being affected by autism. Symptoms of ASD include deficiencies in social behaviors, cognition and communication, repetitive behaviors, regression of language skills, severe brain disorganization and a drop in processing skills. For most of the children with autism, sensory perception becomes disoriented, inappropriate and often overwhelming.
How we are exposed to more and more chemicals
In 2006, the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission approved a federal regulation (16 CFR 1640) enforcing a very strict - national flameproof mattress standard, mandating all new mattresses to withstand a two-foot wide blowtorch open-flame test, for 70 seconds. Cheaper chemicals in higher amounts instantly went into all mattresses, sofa beds, futons, cribs and fold out beds that are included under the regulation.
That cute little one-piece sleeper for your toddler could also be infiltrated with poison! Toxic fire retardants are used in a multitude of common household products and can be found in everything from pillows to couches, children's clothing, carpets, computers and baby toys.
Arlene Blum, a visiting scholar in chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, and executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute says: "U.S. manufacturers treat furniture with... either tris (2,3,-dibromopropyl) phosphate, a known cancer-causing agent, or a trademarked mix of four chemicals called Firemaster 500"..."In the U.S., we the have highest levels of flame retardants in our dust and in our bodies." But there's little evidence that these chemicals are making a difference in the number of fires that take place. In fact, Blum says, "[chemical] flame retardants aren't very useful in reducing fire hazards because they slow fires by just a few seconds."
The bottom line
The conclusion of the fire retardant study shows that in a genetically susceptible population, PBDE exposure can have strong effects and can tip the balance toward autism. These researchers examined only one environmental chemical in autistic behaviors. Autism is a multifactorial disorder and not just limited to PBDEs.
You, the consumer have to make an educated and informed decision about things that affect your health and the health of your child. Buying chemical-free baby products is a great start!
About the author: Craig Stellpflug is a Cancer Nutrition Specialist, Lifestyle Coach and Neuro Development Consultant at Healing Pathways Medical Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ. http://www.healingpathwayscancerclinic.com/ With 17 years of clinical experience working with both brain disorders and cancer, Craig has seen first-hand the devastating effects of vaccines and pharmaceuticals on the human body and has come to the conclusion that a natural lifestyle and natural remedies are the true answers to health and vibrant living. You can find his daily health blog at www.blog.realhealthtalk.com and his articles and radio show archives at www.realhealthtalk.com