A recently published research review from York University in Toronto has resulted in a warning to expectant mothers to avoid some common household items.
Research supervisor, professor Dorota Crawford School of Kinesiology and Health Science, Faculty of Health, says the evidence suggests a link between exposure to chemicals found in a number of common consumer items, even cosmetics, is related to an increase in incidence of autism.
“The products that we use on a daily basis, such as creams and cosmetics, contain chemicals that could potentially affect a developing baby during pregnancy,” she says.
The products include cleaning solvents, pesticides, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin); misoprostol (a drug used for inducing labor); polychlorinated bisphenyls used as industrial lubricants; polybrominated diphenyl ethers found in wood and textiles; phthalates in PVC flooring, children’s toys, and cosmetics and lotions.
The York researchers note that development of the human brain in a foetus requires certain genes at a specific time, and at specific “expressions levels”.
They point out that environmental factors- exposure to certain chemicals- can affect the expression level of these critical genes, especially affect the level of important lipid mediators including prostaglandin E2 or PGE2. This major lipid molecule naturally found in the brain is important in regulating the expression of essential genes required for early brain development and its proper function.
Professor Crawford and coauthors Christine Wong and Joshua Wais summarized a number of published studies. Their research was entitled “Prenatal exposure to common environmental factors affects brain lipids and increases risk of developing Autism Spectrum Disorders,” was recently published in the European Journal of Neuroscience
The review by the York team also noted that worrisome chemicals can continue to be passed to the baby after birth through the mother’s breast milk.
The report concludes that, “This collection of work justifies the need to further investigate the long-term effects of common chemicals and products.”