A recent study conducted by researchers from Rowan University and Rutgers University in New Jersey has found that children with autism and ADHD have difficulty eliminating the toxin BPA from their bodies. BPA, or bisphenol A, is a chemical compound commonly found in food, drinks, and other everyday items. The study, published in the journal PLOS One, provides the first hard biochemical evidence linking BPA to the development of these conditions.
BPA has been dubbed a ‘gender-bending’ chemical due to its ability to interfere with hormones and sexual development. It has also been linked to low sperm counts, infertility, and various types of cancer. Despite these concerns, the United States has some of the most lax rules on the amount of BPA allowed in products, with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowing much higher levels than European officials.
The study measured the detoxification efficiency of 66 children with autism, 46 with ADHD, and 37 neurotypical children aged three to 16 years old. The researchers collected urine samples from each child between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to determine their BPA levels. They also measured the children’s dietary and vitamin intake.
The results showed that children with autism have a 10 percent lower ability to eliminate BPA from their bodies, while children with ADHD have a 17 percent lower ability. Lead study author Dr. T Peter Stein, a professor at the Rowan-Virtua School of Osteopathic Medicine, stated that this compromised detoxification ability is the first hard biochemical evidence linking BPA to the development of these conditions. The study also showed that children with ADHD have the same defect in BPA detoxification, which was a surprising finding for the researchers.
Previous research has found associations between BPA exposure and autism, but this study is the first to link the toxin to the development of these conditions through impaired detoxification. About one in 36 children in the United States has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), with higher rates among boys. ADHD is also a common disorder, typically diagnosed in childhood but with recent increases in adult diagnoses. Both conditions have no definitive cause, but research suggests a combination of genetic and environmental factors play a role.
The study also raises questions about the potential impact of increased BPA exposure on the rising rates of autism and ADHD in the United States. The country has some of the highest rates of these conditions in the world, with autism rates increasing by 52 percent since 2017.
The increase in ADHD and autism diagnoses has also led to a spike in the use of medication such as Adderall, a stimulant commonly prescribed for ADHD. The pandemic has further contributed to the surge in new prescriptions, resulting in a nationwide shortage of the drug.
More research is needed to understand the link between BPA exposure and the development of autism and ADHD. The researchers hope their findings will prompt authorities to consider stricter regulations surrounding BPA in products to protect children’s health.