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Toxic chemicals linked to autism, ADHD, dyslexia

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toxic chemicalsToxic chemicals may be behind the rising number of children with autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia, U.S. researchers say.

Co-authors Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and Philip Landrigan, dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, said the study outlines possible links between newly recognized neurotoxicants and negative health effects on children, including:

-- Manganese associated with diminished intellectual function and impaired motor skills.

-- Solvents linked to hyperactivity and aggressive behavior.

-- Certain types of pesticides might cause cognitive delays.

"The greatest concern is the large numbers of children who are affected by toxic damage to brain development in the absence of a formal diagnosis," Grandjean said. "They suffer reduced attention span, delayed development, and poor school performance. Industrial chemicals are now emerging as likely causes."

The study follows up on similar work conducted by the authors in 2006 that identified five industrial chemicals as "developmental neurotoxicants," or chemicals that can cause brain deficits.

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