Environmental Exposures and Autism:The Interplay Between Genes, Environment and Health Status

March 6, 2013
1:00 pm US Eastern Time

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Autism is a complex disorder with varying expression in individuals. While genetic research has demonstrated that autism has a strong hereditary component, there is increasing research on the possible role of environmental exposures.

On this call hosted by CHE-Alaska, Dr. Martha Herbert of Harvard Medical School led a discussion of emerging science on how exposures to toxic chemicals may contribute to autism and other health and brain conditions. One way this can occur is through affecting physiology and brain function, starting during early development and continuing throughout the lifespan. Some chemicals that are widely used in consumer products are considered highly likely to contribute to autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders, yet they have not undergone even minimal assessment of potential toxicity. Maureen Swanson of the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) discussed how you can advocate for policy changes that will protect children from these harmful chemicals.

Featured Speakers

Dr. Martha Herbert is an assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, a pediatric neurologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and an affiliate of the Harvard-MIT-MGH Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, where she is director of the TRANSCEND Research Program (Treatment Research and Neuroscience Evaluation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders). She received the first Cure Autism Now Innovator Award and is now on the Scientific Advisory Committee of Autism Speaks.

Maureen Swanson is National Coordinator of the Healthy Children Project of the Learning Disabilities Association of America focused on raising awareness of toxic chemicals linked to learning and developmental disabilities, and reducing exposures to toxic chemicals, especially among pregnant women, infants and children.