Dr. Philip Landrigan of the Mount Sinai Medical Center told the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) Friday that more research needs to be conducted on potential environmental causes of autism.
For decades, autism has been believed to be primarily a genetic disorder, but in recent years, scientists have acknowledged that environmental factors such as pesticides and other chemicals also play a significant role in the causes of autism.
Landrigan is one of the leaders of the National Children’s Study, which is expected to identify causes of autism and many other childhood disorders and diseases. The study will “examine the effects of environmental influences on the health and development of 100,000 children across the United States, following them from before birth until age 21.”
Landrigan has been investigating the effects of environmental toxicants on the development of children since the early 1970s when he determined that even very small levels of lead could affect cognitive ability.
His landmark work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) resulted in the government banning lead from gasoline in 1976 and from paint in 1977, actions that decreased childhood lead poisoning in the U.S. by more than 90 percent.
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