The double edged sword that is technology can cut us just as likely as what we intend. We must be trained like samurai and respect it's dangerous potential and reverie it usefulness. To train and study it for years. To keep it sheathed and only use it only when absolutely necessary. Not grab it, say, "look what I can do," and swing it wildly in every direction.

I think the biggest problem with "better living through chemistry" has been the shear amount of chemicals we've lovingly dumped in our environment and living spaces. Being unable to easily decouple one from another when out in the wild - where the sample size is finally large enough and duration long enough - has led to too many questions. Which one, or pairing, or grouping, is causing what detrimental outcome? Leading to bickering and fighting and placing blame on whichever devil we feel is right. And those devils, in the form of corporations, have more money than independent researchers so we battle public relation battalions for decades until finally the right questions are asked and data gathered so a higher resolution picture can be seen.

#culturalhindsight #betterlivingthroughchemistry #weknownotwhatwedo
Chemicals banned decades ago linked to increased autism risk today
Chemicals used in certain pesticides and as insulating material banned in the 1970s may still be haunting us, according to new research that suggests links between higher levels of exposure during pregnancy and significantly increased odds of autism spectrum disorder in children.

According to the research, children born after being exposed to the highest levels of certain compounds of the chemicals, called organochlorine chemicals, during their mother's pregnancy were roughly 80 percent more likely to be diagnosed with autism when compared to individuals with the very lowest levels of these chemicals. That also includes those who were completely unexposed.

Although production of organochlorine chemicals was banned in the United States in 1977, these compounds can remain in the environment and become absorbed in the fat of animals that humans eat, leading to exposure.

With that in mind, Kristen Lyall, ScD, assistant professor in Drexel University's A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, and her collaborators, decided to look at organochlorine chemicals during pregnancy since they can cross through the placenta and affect the fetus' neurodevelopment.

"There's a fair amount of research examining exposure to these chemicals during pregnancy in association with other outcomes, like birth weight -- but little research on autism, specifically," Lyall said. "To examine the role of environmental exposures in risk of autism, it is important that samples are collected during time frames with evidence for susceptibility for autism -- termed 'critical windows' in neurodevelopment. Fetal development is one of those critical windows." 

The team looked at a population sample of 1,144 children born in Southern California between 2000 and 2003. Data was accrued from mothers who had enrolled in California's Expanded Alphafetoprotein Prenatal Screening Program, which is dedicated to detecting birth defects during pregnancy.

Participants' children were separated into three groups: 545 who were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, 181 with intellectual disabilities but no autism diagnosis, and 418 with a diagnosis of neither.

Blood tests taken during the second trimester were used to determine the levels of exposure. There are tons of chemicals detectable in our bodies from exposure—including two different organochlorine classified chemicals, PCBs and OCPs. Lyall and others were interested in the “levels” of this exposure.

It was determined that two compounds in particular -- PCB 138/158 and PCB 153 -- stood out as being significantly linked with autism risk. Children with the highest in utero levels (exposure during their mother's pregnancy) of these two forms of PCBs were between 79 and 82 percent more likely to have an autism diagnosis than those found to be exposed to the lowest levels.

High levels of two other compounds, PCB 170 and PCB 180, were also associated with children being approximately 50 percent more likely to be diagnosed -- again, this is relative to children with the lowest prenatal exposure to these PCBs. None of the OCPs appeared to show an association with higher autism diagnosis risk.

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#research   #autism   #health   #medicine  
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