New study shows link between parental exposure to toxins and conditions of autism and ADHD

The link was first established in 2015 at UT Health San Antonio.

SAN ANTONIO — More children are being diagnosed with autism and ADHD than ever before.

But a new study finds a connection between parental exposure to toxins, and the chance their child could come down with either condition.

Dr. Claudia S. Miller, a professor emeritus with the Department of Family and Community Medicine at UT Health San Antonio, and senior author of the study told KENS 5, “We studied people who have developed chemical intolerance due to toxic exposures during their lifetime and developed a questionnaire.”

The questionnaire looked into toxins that participants had been exposed to throughout their life, such as petrochemicals, coal, oil, gas, and the dreaded mold. 

“Now we’re seeing much more mold as a result of water intrusion, water coming in from all the storms and climate change that we’re having,” Dr. Miller said.

The Quick Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity questionnaire surveyed 8,000 U.S. adults and found that the top 10% of parents with increased chemical intolerances had close to six times the risk of having a child diagnosed with autism, and about two times the risk for the ADHD component, compared to the 10% with the least exposure to toxins. 

Those findings build on a previous 2015 study by UT Health San Antonio, which was the first ever to link chemical intolerance to autism and ADHD.

So what else should be avoided? 

“Pesticides, fragrances, strong cleaning chemicals, personal care products that might make people sick,” said Dr. Miller.

She also says this gives great hope in the fight against ADHD and Autism.

“The hope comes from people learning about avoiding exposures, protecting people who are exposed on their jobs, reducing exposures in the home to the things that we know can cause the problem,” Dr. Miller said.

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