Brain Damage in Children—The Result of Too Many Chemicals?
A new report is sounding the alarm of a “silent epidemic” of childhood neurological disorders linked to neurotoxic compounds.
While genetics is known to play a role in neurological problems, only 30 to 40 percent of neurodevelopmental disorders can be definitively tied to family history. “There are a lot of chemicals out there that have been shown to have the capability to injure the developing brain,” says study coauthor Philip Landrigan, MD, professor and chair of the department of community and preventive medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City and one of the world’s foremost authorities on children’s environmental health. “And we’re very concerned that a number of chemicals in everyday products have never been properly tested to determine whether they’re toxic to the human brain.”
In the new report, Dr. Landrigan and his coauthor identified six chemicals that have been discovered, within the past seven years, to trigger brain damage in children. In 2006, he and other researchers ID’d lead, methylmercury, arsenic, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and toluene as known contributors to rising rates of neurodevelopmental disorders like autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and learning disabilities.