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Autism Linked to Environment

by Cynthia Dermody on January 12, 2009 at 2:06 PM

autism linked to environmentSpeaking of vaccines and controversial subjects, here's some new findings on autism's link to the environment. A group of doctors in California, where autism rates are skyrocketing, feel strongly that autism may be more the result of household cleaning products, pesticides, and other chemicals than previously thought.

In a study in the journal Epidemiology, the researchers give a bunch of numbers that show increases in autism are not artificial -- that is, caused by immigration rates or more diagnoses due to increased awareness. They also toss out the probability of genetics and vaccines (thimerosal was taken out of vaccines in 1999) being a huge factor for various reasons.

Rather, these researchers are big on the idea that environmental causes, which could be altering a developing baby's brain structure, are triggering autism. They include:

Mercury and other metals

PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls, man-made chemicals used in electronics and industrial processes)


Brominated flame retardants (used in furniture and electronics);

Pet flea shampoos (mothers of autistic children were twice as likely to use them)

Phthalates (used in vinyl and cosmetics)

Antibacterial soaps (they could have ingredients that harm the brain by changing immune systems)

Infectious microbes (in the 1970s, autism rates increased due to the rubella virus).

Question: I think autism is caused by ...
  1. Vaccines 8%
  2. Environment (chemicals, household cleaners, etc.) 13%
  3. Genetics 16%
  4. A combination of many factors, including those above. 61%
Total Votes: 96
Voting on polls is not available on The Stir Mobile.

Filed Under: autism, development & growth, health, safety


  • BigMo...


    January 12, 2009 at 2:18 PM


  • GinaP...


    January 12, 2009 at 2:21 PM

    I've also heard that too much TV can lead to Austism.  Is this a fact or just a rumor of sorts?

  • monro...


    January 12, 2009 at 2:37 PM

    Vitamin D defficeincy, video games, but I agree that the chemicals in the house are a big factor.

  • beccimae


    January 12, 2009 at 2:55 PM

    I don't know about the son was diagnosed on the spectrum and we didn't even have our TV plugged in for the first three years of his life.

  • Annetteg


    January 12, 2009 at 3:01 PM

    I've heard some much news on vaccines being a contributing factor of autism.  Our environment has to be part of the problem, especially in chemicals they use in toy making in other countries.  It's heart breaking hearing my friends who find out their children get a diagnoses of autism, when they did everything right in caring for their pregancy and baby. 

  • Itali...


    January 12, 2009 at 3:28 PM

    IMO (and this is JUST an opinion) I think there are several factors involved, probably environment as well as vaccines, BUT I think that you must already have a predisposition to autism and that possibly vaccines are just one of the factors that can trigger the disorder...which is why not ALL children become autistic from vaccinations basically if the child became autistic right after a vaccination they were already going to have it..but thats JUST my opinion..

  • Loa1002


    January 12, 2009 at 3:34 PM

    whatever the chemicals that are in the vaccines are also in the environment but you dont get such a strong dose as when the babies are under 5.IMO

  • mommy9


    January 12, 2009 at 4:18 PM

    I will be bringing home my 5th child with autism soon for adoption.  I think many factors are involved.  Autism is a spectrum disorder and I think that is one of the things that makes it hard to figure out.  Autism is diagnosed by behaviors, delays, etc that could come from several sources.  I also think that often kids are grouped into categories and labeled with not being "normal" as a kind of excuse.  I've chosen to adopt my kids and "autism" isn't a horrible thing that they are faced with, but a way that God chose to make them special.  Their behaviors can be modified and they shouldn't be shunned.  I'd love to see a day come when people don't cringe at an autism diagnosis, but instead will have learned how to help them succeed and be accepted into society as the special individuals that they are.  Whatever the "cause", I'm just thankful that God gave me such wonderful children.

  • MamiJazz


    January 12, 2009 at 6:18 PM

    so sad... ;(

  • zombi...


    January 13, 2009 at 1:22 AM

    Pet flea shampoos (mothers of autistic children were twice as likely to use them)

    What the hell is THIS about?   mothers using PET FLEA SHAMPOO?????  I need someone to explain THAT to me.

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