(NaturalNews) According to the work produced by the Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility in 2000, In Harm's Way: Toxic Threats To Child Development, millions of U.S. children exhibit learning disabilities, reduced IQ, and destructive, aggressive behavior due to toxic chemical exposure. Developmental neurotoxicants are defined as chemicals that are toxic to the developing brain. They include the following: the metals lead, mercury, cadmium, and manganese; nicotine, pesticides such as organophospates and others that are widely used in homes and schools, dioxin and PCBs that bioaccumulate in the food chain; and solvents, including ethanol and others used in pains, glues, and cleaning solutions. These chemicals may be directly toxic to cells or interfere with hormones (endocrine disruptors), neurotransmitters, or other growth factors. Some of these chemicals are used extensively in manufacturing and are emitted in the environment upwards to millions of pounds annually. They can be passed to the developing child through the placenta, breast milk, or in food where they end up in our bones, blood, fat, urine, ovaries, and sperm. Many are so widely dispersed globally that Inuits in the Arctic, far from sources of industrial pollution, carry a significant body burden of some of these chemicals. They contend that it is clear that we can no longer ignore the mounting evidence that chemical exposures contribute to the epidemic of developing disabilities.
Autism - An epidemic
Epidemiologist Albert Benenson defines epidemic as, "The occurrence in a community or region of excess of an illness (or an outbreak) with a frequency clearly in excess of normal expectancy." In light of this definition, it's clear that we are in the midst of a worldwide Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) epidemic. On a national level, it has been reported that autism rates have doubled from 1966 to 1997, then spiked 26.01 percent between 1998 to 1999. Individual states have documented staggering ASD prevalence that shadows the national numbers. Within the state of California, for example, the number of children entered into the autism registry increased by 210 percent between 1987 and 1998.
The dangers of chemically-contaminated foods and chemically treated playgrounds
Of unique interest is the role that pesticides play in vast increase in children affected by autism. On a weight-adjusted basis, children eat more fruit and vegetables than adults. Counter-intuitively, this puts children at high risk because 20 million American children five and under consume an average of eight different pesticides every day through food consumption. 37 pesticides registered for use on foods are neurotoxic organophosphate insecticides, chemically related to more toxic nerve warfare agents developed earlier in this country. One such pesticide, chlopyrifos (commonly sold as Dursban), is among the most widely-used insecticides in homes. Dursban decreases DNA synthesis in the developing brain resulting in deficits in cell numbers. National health exposure studies have found that chlorpyrifos residues (as the metabolite TCP) have been detected in up to 82 percent of adult urine samples and up to 92 percent in children samples. In addition to food consumption, surveys in Massachusetts and Connecticut have shown that more than 80 percent of schools routinely spray pesticides. Thus, children are particularly at risk of absorbing toxic pesticides through their skin or ingesting them as they play.
Sources for this article include:
Benenson AS. Control of communicable diseases manual (16th ed.). Washington DC. American Public Health Association. Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility. In Harm's Way: Toxic Threats To Child Development. Cambridge. 2000. McCandless, J. Children with starving brains: a medical treatment guide for autism spectrum disorder 2nd ed. Bramble Books, Putney. 2003.
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