By Audrey Quinn
Posting in Environment
Researchers suggest a link between Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and parental occupational exposures.
While other researchers have gone back and forth debating the relationship between parent income and a child's odds of having Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a new study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) focuses on a different aspect of parents' careers: the chemicals they work around.
The study, published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, found:
- Children with ASD were more likely to have parents that work around lacquer, varnish and xylene, compared to unaffected children
- Parents of children with ASD were more likely to report exposures to asphalt and solvents, compared to the parents of unaffected children
These findings support a relationship between ASD and parental occupational exposures. However, given the relatively small sample size (93 children with ASD and 81 unaffected children), the authors see the study more as an invitation to explore that relationship, rather than a conclusion that it exists.
Photo: Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, Texas A&M/Flickr
Mar 12, 2012
Unfortunately we don't always know the consequences of exposure to various environmental materials until long into the future when associations are often less obvious. And many poo poo epidemiological studies for both relevance and accuracy, which makes it even more difficult to convince people of the relationship between environmental hazards and long term health impacts. This study doesn't surprise me at all. What surprises me is the lack of awareness that so many substances within our environment can have a dramatic impact on the lives of people. Neonatal consequences can become generational, and we often ask why. Today's exposure may not be manifest for another 30 years. Be aware of your surroundings.
I remember a conversation maybe 20 years ago with a gal from Fitchburg, MA. She was attending her HS Reunion that Summer and after speaking with many old friends (who were all Grandparents by then) she became concerned that so many had grandkids with Autism - not their children, but a skipped generation. My friend also remembered that in the hot Summer season she and her friends would swim in the Fitchburg River (not sure about the name) for relief - just a bit downstream from where the Rayban Sunglasses Company would dump it's chemical waste, like so many other companies all over America did to the rivers next to them. Any connection with chemicals and autism there?
Hm, that skipping-a-generation observation is interesting. I'm not familiar with that river, and as I mentioned to gork platter I don't believe such a causal relationship between industrial chemicals and ASD has been shown yet. However, I did recently blog about a link between industrial chemicals and ADHD in Massachusetts http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/rethinking-healthcare/industrial-chemicals-linked-to-adhd-in-boys/8071?tag=search-river.
I actually made a similar association, because nail polish contains both lacquer and solvents. However, I think researchers have yet to find a convincingly causal relationship between these chemicals and ASD.