Thursday, April 26, 2012

PCB Exposure May Increase Risk of Autism

Dr. Pamela Lein, a developmental neurobiologist and professor of molecular biosciences in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, said PCBs can cause a disruption of nerve connections in the brain among children. “Impaired neuronal connectivity is a common feature of a number of conditions, including autism spectrum disorders.” However, the PCBs alone are not believed to cause autism, but serve as an environmental trigger among genetically susceptible children. Two related studies published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, present findings that underscore the developing brain’s vulnerability to environmental exposures and demonstrate how PCBs could add to autism risk. “We don’t think PCB exposure causes autism,” Lein said, “but it may increase the likelihood of autism in children whose genetic makeup already compromises the processes by which neurons form connections.”