Flame Retardant Chemicals and Autism? No Clear Connection
While reading my daily articles I came across an article in the Press Release section of the San Francisco Chronicle called "Study: Autism Linked to Flame Retardants - The Futon Shop's Chemical Free Mattresses are the Next Step in Helping to Reduce Rates of Autism". It sites a research study done by Irva Hertz-Piccotto, Ph.D. chief of the division of Environmental Health at the University of California Davis that supposedly proved a connection between PBDE's, which are flame-retardant chemicals used in furniture (and other things), and Autism. The article is actually a PR piece done by a furniture company that doesn't use PBDE's, and so they are trying to "inform" (or better yet, scare) consumers into purchasing their products.
Anytime I see any claims like this, red flags fly all over the place. I found it interesting that such an important environmental connection as this would be so unknown, and only first published by a furniture company. Nope, something wasn't right. So I pulled open Google Scholar, and searched for the research paper.
It wasn't easy to find, but I found the article in the journal Environmental Health (2011, 10:1). The article is located here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1476-069X-10-1.pdf, if you care to read through it yourself. The research project was more of a survey, looking to compare PBDE concentrations in children with Autism and those in the control group. The qualifiers were that though current levels could be influenced by a number of conditions (such as diet, current exposure, previous exposure, etc.), the hope was a possible connection between fetal exposure to PBDE's through the mother would reflect an environmental cause for Autism.Continued on the next page