It’s a disturbing headline – but it’s not more anti-vaxer rhetoric or conspiracy theorists rubbish, it’s from a leading scientific journal and for parents – or parents to be – it is pretty concerning.
Researchers over the weekend released a paper, in the ‘Lancet Neurology’ that said the number of everyday chemicals known to be toxic to children’s developing brains has doubled over the last seven years.
The review by researchers, Dr. Philip Landrigan at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and Dr. Philippe Grandjean from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston claims that the news is so concerning they are calling for a worldwide overhaul of the regulatory process in order to protect children’s brains.
“We know from clinical information on poisoned adult patients that these chemicals can enter the brain through the blood brain barrier and cause neurological symptoms,” said Grandjean.
“When this happens in children or during pregnancy, those chemicals are extremely toxic, because we now know that the developing brain is a uniquely vulnerable organ. Also, the effects are permanent.”
They have dubbed it a “global, silent pandemic of neurodevelopmental toxicity”.
Previously the researchers had listed 5 chemicals that they felt may have detrimental affects upon developing brains.
This list has now been upgraded to 11.
The researchers felt one of the biggest areas of concerns were those children who suffered the effects of toxic damage, but no formal diagnosis and suffered poor performance at school as a result.
Alice Walton writes for Forbes that “Neurobehavioral problems, like autism, ADHD, and dyslexia, affect about 10-15% of kids born today, the authors say. Genes play a large role in some of these disorders – but not that large. Only about 30-40% of the cases of the disorders can be accounted for by genes alone, so environment must make up the other part.”
According to the studies authors at greatest risk are babies in utero and newborns.
“During these sensitive life stages,” say the authors, “Chemicals can cause permanent brain injury at low levels of exposure that would have little or no adverse effect in an adult.”
The chemicals they feel are of most concern are (from Forbes.com)
1. Lead – Its effects seem to be permanent, leading to the conclusion that there is no safe level of exposure.
2. Methylmercury– Affecting the neurological development of the foetus,exposure often comes from maternal intake of fish containing high levels of mercury, according to the World Health Organisation and the EPA.