As parents and caregivers of children with ADHD, or disorders along the autism spectrum, we know that our children can be much more sensitive to their surroundings than many of their peers. So, we take steps to help our kids cope with the added stress that too much stimuli from their environment can bring. But, I wonder how many of us have ever stopped for a moment to consider the possibility that it might be the actual common, everyday items in our environment that have contributed to rise in the diagnosis of these disorders
A recent article in The Sydney Morning Herald discusses the results of a review of recent research in The Lancet Neurology. The article states that studies show that many common, everyday items, like our clothing, dinnerware and even our children's toys may be filled with hazardous chemicals that can directly and indirectly cause neurodevelopment disorders such as dyslexia, ADHD and autism spectrum disorders.
Currently, the list of chemicals that are known to cause such conditions has doubled in the past few years from six to 12. Some of these chemicals are already either banned or strictly regulated in Australia, such as DDT and lead. Others such as industrial solvents, or the methyl mercury that are found in fish, are not as tightly regulated. Scientists can't even agree on which chemicals are to blame, as some say that the fluoride that is found in treated water could be one of the culprits.
Perhaps the most frightening fact to come out of the article is the fact that most chemicals haven't been tested at all to see if they might affect the development of children or unborn babies. According to the article, over 80,000 chemicals that are used in industrial settings in the United States have never been tested for their effects on the neurodevelopment of children and unborn babies. Australian authorities are just now working on prioritising the risk of over 38,000 chemicals that may contaminate the environment or leech out of manufactured products and contribute to these disorders.
While scientists continue their research and conduct more studies, it is hard to know what one can do to keep their children safe. As a parent, it's chilling to realise that if this article is correct, science and industry can't really say if these chemicals and the products that are made with them are truly safe for our children.
Going forward, I will continue to look for ways in our daily life to minimise our contact with chemicals.
After reading the article, what steps do you plan to take to minimise your family's contact with these potentially dangerous substances?