Saturday, February 15, 2014

Grandjean and Landrigan Propose a Global Prevention Strategy To Control the Pandemic of Developmental Neurotoxicity


In Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity, published in the Lancet, Dr Philippe Grandjean MD and Philip J Landrigan MD, propose a global prevention strategy to address the impact of developmental neurotoxicants and the increasing numbers of children with developmental disabilities including autism, ADHD and intellectual disabilities. As the article abstract points out the authors had conducted an earlier systematic review and identified five industrial chemicals as developmental neurotoxicants with six additional developmental intoxicants identified since then:

Neurodevelopmental disabilities, including autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, and other cognitive impairments, affect millions of children worldwide, and some diagnoses seem to be increasing in frequency. Industrial chemicals that injure the developing brain are among the known causes for this rise in prevalence. In 2006, we did a systematic review and identified five industrial chemicals as developmental neurotoxicants: lead, methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, arsenic, and toluene. Since 2006, epidemiological studies have documented six additional developmental neurotoxicants—manganese, fluoride, chlorpyrifos, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, tetrachloroethylene, and the polybrominated diphenyl ethers. We postulate that even more neurotoxicants remain undiscovered. To control the pandemic of developmental neurotoxicity, we propose a global prevention strategy. Untested chemicals should not be presumed to be safe to brain development, and chemicals in existing use and all new chemicals must therefore be tested for developmental neurotoxicity. To coordinate these efforts and to accelerate translation of science into prevention, we propose the urgent formation of a new international clearinghouse.

In 2013 Landrigan, Lambertini and Birnbaum had proposed A Research Strategy to Discover the Environmental Causes of Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities. Autism researchers in particular, and the agencies and institutions that fund them, do not seem to have taken seriously the obvious, yes I said obvious, need to explore environmental causes and triggers of autism and neurodevelopmental disabilities and instead appear to be continuing their obsessive need to find genetic elements that "might" be "associated with"  some subsets of autism disorders. The rigid adherence to a non evidence based belief that autism has to be caused by genetic influences, the "it's gotta be genetic" (Teresa Binstock, 1999) paradigm is almost cult like in its persistence in the face of its repeated failure, despite overwhelming funding of genetic based autism research, to find any specific genetic causes of most autism disorders. 

We must act now as Grandjean, Landrigan, Lambertini and Birnbaum have proposed and take seriously the harmful effects of neurotoxicants.  We must begin to develop a rational, serious global strategy to deal with their harmful impact on generations of children to come.  

11 comments:

Claire said...

Excellent. And yes...it would seem obvious to look at neurotoxins. I teach young children Harold and I swear it gets worse every year. Kids are not healthy in some indefinable way. Wouldn't it be nice if this report changed things? It is, however, difficult to remain optimistic.

H L Doherty said...

It is difficult to remain optimistic Claire. I think though that we have to continue rattling the neurodevelopmental researchers' self constructed cages and hope they will waken from their deep slumber.

Roger Kulp said...

Thanks for providing a .pdf Harold.One thing that I don't think the antivaxers get,is the increase in numbers,and severity in autism in the last 20,25 years,is much too big to just be vaccines.There have been so many kids born since 1990 or so with severe intellectual disability,that both the increased numbers,and the severity of the disabilities would point to damage in the womb.I don't think we are looking at one single or obvious type of exposure,like thalidomide,but more like the result of living in a toxic soup,where the effect of multiple chemical exposures might be the tipping point in one child,or where what might cause problems in one child,might not be the same thing that cause the same problems in another child.This is a very complicated mess that is going to take decades to sort out.

You do know it isn't just autism,and developmental disorders that have been going up,it's autoimmune disease,and methylation disorders as well.We are looking at the worldwide epigenetic end result of over a hundred years of exposures that we are only starting to understand the severity of.

Anonymous said...

Good post Harold, great observation Roger.

Anonymous said...

The surgeon General has stated that genetics related to autism is a high priority in terms of current and future studies.
Is the surgeon general wrong?

H L Doherty said...

Anonymous 6:38 Genetics in relation to the autisms has been a priority for decades. Genetics receives overwhelming share of autism research dollars without much to show for it.

Anonymous said...

Harorld,
studies on identical twins have shown that genetics plays a part in autism. There are multiple genes involved which makes the study complex. Studies of environmental and other toxins are needed.
Siblings of those with autism need know the facts when they choose to have children of their own. Current research shows that they will have a small but increased chance of having a child with autism based on genetics alone versus the general population.

H L Doherty said...

Anonymous 10:54 I don't doubt that genetics "plays a role". The problem that I have commented on for years is the assumption that genetics acts, isolated from environment, to cause or trigger autism disorders in all cases. Funding for autism causation research has been dedicated overwhelmingly to the genetic side of the equation with few dollars dedicated to environmental autism research. Focusing totally on genetics to the exclusion of environment in autism research has produced few tangible result and, IMHO, has not been a sound, wise strategy. I applaud Grandjean, Landrigan and others who advocate a serious strategy for investigation of environmental factors involved in causing autism disorders.

Kim Oakley said...

Harold I admire your courage and commitment to your autistic son and applaud you in all you do to bring balance to the issues associated with severe autism! Well done. I agree that while genetics may play a part in autism, we can't overlook the obvious implications that multiple environmental triggers can exacerbate behaviors and developmental challenges to those who are most vulnerable on the spectrum.

Kim Oakley said...

Harold, thank you for your continual dedication and commitment in discussing issues that concern the most vulnerable on the autism spectrum. I agree, that while genetics may play a part in autism, we can't ignore multiple environmental etiologies that trigger and exacerbate complex behavior and developmental issues that plague persons who suffer from severe autism. For example, conventional medications used to treat severe autism often have paradoxical effects on the autistic brain. The question autism researchers aren't asking is WHY. WHAT is it about severe autism that hasn't yet been studied? How can we better understand severe autism? When will researchers begin looking in areas that have not been explored?

Roger Kulp said...

Number of chemicals linked to autism and other disorders doubled in past 7 years, study shows

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/02/15/number-chemicals-linked-to-autism-and-other-disorders-doubled-in-past-7-years/