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EMF Studies

20 November 2016

Autism in 2016: The Need for Answers

"A search was performed in PubMed (United States National Library of Medicine) about the environmental factors hypothetically involved in the non-syndromic autism spectrum disorder etiopathogenesis, including: air pollutants, pesticides and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals, electromagnetic pollution, vaccinations, and diet modifications."

Autism in 2016: the need for answers
Autismo em 2016: necessidade de respostas

In Press, Uncorrected Proof — Note to users

Jornal de Pediatria

Available online 9 November 2016 - Full text available.  See Abstract and extracts below.

Objective
Autism spectrum disorders are lifelong and often devastating conditions that severely affect social functioning and self-sufficiency. The etiopathogenesis is presumably multifactorial, resulting from a very complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors. The dramatic increase in autism spectrum disorder prevalence observed during the last decades has led to placing more emphasis on the role of environmental factors in the etiopathogenesis. The objective of this narrative biomedical review was to summarize and discuss the results of the most recent and relevant studies about the environmental factors hypothetically involved in autism spectrum disorder etiopathogenesis.

Sources
A search was performed in PubMed (United States National Library of Medicine) about the environmental factors hypothetically involved in the non-syndromic autism spectrum disorder etiopathogenesis, including: air pollutants, pesticides and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals, electromagnetic pollution, vaccinations, and diet modifications.

Summary of the findings
While the association between air pollutants, pesticides and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and risk for autism spectrum disorder is receiving increasing confirmation, the hypothesis of a real causal relation between them needs further data. The possible pathogenic mechanisms by which environmental factors can lead to autism spectrum disorder in genetically predisposed individuals were summarized, giving particular emphasis to the increasingly important role of epigenetics.

Conclusions
Future research should investigate whether there is a significant difference in the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder among nations with high and low levels of the various types of pollution. A very important goal of the research concerning the interactions between genetic and environmental factors in autism spectrum disorder etiopathogenesis is the identification of vulnerable populations, also in view of proper prevention.

Other environmental factors
...


In the present authors’ opinion, the possible involvement of electromagnetic pollution in ASD etiopathogenesis is one of the most intriguing hypotheses, but at the same time one of the least studied.26 The great increase in electromagnetic pollution, related to the huge deployment of wireless technologies, seems to overlap chronologically with the increase in autism prevalence detected over the last decades. A number of studies in the literature have suggested possible biological and health effects, including carcinogenicity, attributable to electromagnetic exposure, probably at least in part mediated by damages to the DNA.27, 28 and 29 In particular with regard to ASD, the hypothesized pathogenic mechanisms of electromagnetic pollution include: damages to the DNA, oxidative stress, intracellular calcium increase, dysfunction of the immune system, and disruption of the blood–brain barrier.28 and 29 The observational case–control study performed by Pino-López and Romero-Ayuso in Spain, involving 70 cases with ASD and 136 controls (aged 16–36 months), suggested the presence of a correlation between job-related electromagnetic exposure of the parents, in particular the father, and ASD in their children.30 However, the study shows some limitations in terms of methodology, including the fact that the authors used data from a single center (Ciudad Real) and employed a tool (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers: M-CHAT) not entirely reliable for the diagnosis of ASD. A systematic epidemiological study involving multiple centers located in different geographical areas with diverse electromagnetic exposure levels is needed to evaluate the hypothesis of an association between the electromagnetic pollution extent and autism prevalence.26 But unfortunately, until now these kinds of studies on this topic have been lacking.

Full text:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0021755716302443

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