Common flame retardant linked to social, behavioural and learning deficits, and autism

Flame retardants in the US are routinely found in home furnishings and electronics to slow down fires by a few seconds. Having been used more and more over the last 25 years, brominated flame retardants are found in household dust, food, air, and in the umbilical cords of newborns.

A recent study at University College Davis, California, has found that mice that have been genetically engineered to be susceptible to autism-like behaviours that were exposed to a common flame retardant, they were less fertile and their offspring were smaller and displayed less sociability, deficits in learning and long-term memory. These results were found when these mice were compared with normal unexposed mice.

This is the first study linking genetic and behavioural changes to a flame retardant chemical and a specific gene mutation found in Rett’s syndrome – a condition on the autistic spectrum that primarily affects females with deficits in behaviour and communication.

A brominated compound known as PDBE has been accumulating in the environment as the prevalence of autistic spectrum disorders has increased. PDBEs interrupt thyroid function, causing changes in brain development. Thyroid hormones act in every cell in the body, affecting metabolism, growth and overall development.

Recent figures in the US suggest that 1 in 91 children are now affected by autism. The study shows that in a genetically susceptible society, PDBEs can tip the balance towards autism.

Source: UC Davis Health System

Thanks to: Natural News

First published in February 2012

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