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Case Western U. finds common household products linked to autism

Mar 25, 2024, Daily Mail: Chemicals in baby wipes, hand soap and nail polish may raise the risk of AUTISM and multiple sclerosis, scientists warn

Chemicals found in common household goods may raise the risk of autism and other developmental issues, a study warns.

Researchers found children with special needs or movement dysfunction had much higher levels of two types of substances in their urine than their peers.

Additional experiments on mice showed these chemicals damage the brain structures that protect nerves and help the brain communicate and function - and nerve damage has been linked to autism and MS.

The chemicals are known as OFRs and QACs. The former is used to make materials non flammable and are found in furniture, nail polish, carpets electronics and dryer sheets.

The latter are a type of chemical used to kill germs and are found in a number of cleaning products and shampoos, sunscreens and body washes. 

The researchers worry that more children are being exposed to these chemicals because hand gels and other disinfectants have become more common after Covid. 

Dr Paul Tesar, the lead researcher and medical expert at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Ohio, said:  'Our findings suggest that more comprehensive scrutiny of the impacts of these common household chemicals on brain health is necessary.

'We hope our work will contribute to informed decisions regarding regulatory measures or behavioral interventions to minimize chemical exposure and protect human health.'

Dr Tesar and his team analyzed more than 1,800 chemicals found in common household items known to damage oligodendrocytes, the structures that protect nerves in the brain.

When brain tissue from mice were exposed to the chemicals, their oligodendrocytes either stopped developing or died.

The team also used national data on US children and found those with special needs had higher levels of these compounds in their bodies than their peers.

They analyzed CDC data from 2013 to 2018 on kids aged three to 11 years old and found a type of OFR was present in 99 percent - 1,753 - of urine samples. 

Levels were significantly higher in children than in adults, and those who needed special education services had the highest levels.

The researchers said: 'Neurological problems impact millions of people, but only a fraction of cases can be attributed to genetics alone, indicating that unknown environmental factors are important contributors to neurological disease.'

Lead author Erin Cohn added: 'We found that oligodendrocytes — but not other brain cells—are surprisingly vulnerable to quaternary ammonium compounds and organophosphate flame retardants.

'Understanding human exposure to these chemicals may help explain a missing link in how some neurological diseases arise.' 

Autism affects one in 36 children, meaning that more than 90,000 children are born annually with the developmental disorder in the US. . . .

Based on their findings, the scientists stress more investigation into how these chemicals affect brain structures is needed, including tracking chemical levels in people's brains to determine the amount and length of exposure to OFRs and QACs are needed to cause or exacerbate disease. 


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