Mysteriously, autism rates in California have gone up 700% in the past 15 years. Theories abound. Some claim the explosion in cases is because doctors are more aware and are therefore diagnosing more children; but that doesn’t account for such a huge spike. Others insist it’s vaccines containing thimerosal that are to blame; but thimerosal (a mercury compound used as a preservative) was phased out in 1999 and autism continues to skyrocket. Environmentalists have long argued that it must be due to environmental factors.
A new study confirms this.
Flame retardants, mercury, pesticides, phthalates, flea shampoos, even chemicals in antibacterial soaps have been linked to autism if the mother had significant exposure to any of these during her pregnancy. Any and all of these substances can disrupt neurological development in fetuses and infants. What’s disturbing is how common most of these chemicals are – and when one’s environment includes more than one, as is the case for most of us, imagine the consequences.
Further studies are needed, but if you still haven’t greened your cosmetics, cleaning supplies and other household goods, now is the time to do so. No harm can come from switching to more natural products, but plenty of harm may come if collectively we don’t.