ASD-Like Behaviors Linked to Prenatal Exposure to Fire Retardants, Phthalates Prenatal exposure to two types of chemicals found in the average home may be linked to autistic-like behaviors in rats, according to new research presented at the Endocrine Society’s recent annual meeting in San Diego. In a study led by Stephanie Degroote, a PhD student at the University of Sherbrooke ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   May 01, 2015
ASD-Like Behaviors Linked to Prenatal Exposure to Fire Retardants, Phthalates
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Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   May 01, 2015
ASD-Like Behaviors Linked to Prenatal Exposure to Fire Retardants, Phthalates
The ASHA Leader, May 2015, Vol. 20, 14. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB5.20052015.14
The ASHA Leader, May 2015, Vol. 20, 14. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB5.20052015.14
Prenatal exposure to two types of chemicals found in the average home may be linked to autistic-like behaviors in rats, according to new research presented at the Endocrine Society’s recent annual meeting in San Diego.
In a study led by Stephanie Degroote, a PhD student at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, young rats showed behaviors similar to those seen in children with autism spectrum disorder after being exposed to fire retardant chemicals—used in most furniture foam cushions—and phthalate chemicals, found on many plastic household objects.
The two types of chemicals are known to impair hormonal processes, and past research has shown that prenatal exposure can affect mental and motor development. Degroote’s study, however, focuses on the effect of the two chemicals simultaneously, as women are often exposed to both at the same time.
The researchers found that pups of pregnant rats who were fed a mixture of various phthalates and brominated flame retardants showed reduced social interactions when compared to an unexposed group, and displayed increased, hyperactive movements—in line with behaviors of children with ASD. Male rats were more affected than their female counterparts; in humans, boys are more likely to have the disorder than girls.
And although many different environmental factors and genes are likely at play in the development of ASD, “Our research points to potentially preventable causes of autism, which remains a diagnosis with enormous social costs and limited solutions,” Degroote says.
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May 2015
Volume 20, Issue 5