Monday, May 19, 2008

Autism may be linked to pesticide in pet shampoos

Chemicals found in pet shampoos may be linked to an increased risk of autism, according to a paper presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research in London May 15.

According to ABC News and The Times in the UK, the study showed that "mothers who used pesticide-based shampoos to wash their pets while pregnant were twice as likely to have a child with an autistic spectrum disorder as those who did not."

The findings are from the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment study, which is funded by the US National Institutes of Health. The preliminary results link the chemicals called pyrethrins found in pet shampoos and flea sprays to an increased risk of autism.

“Mothers of ASD (autism spectrum disorder) children were twice as likely to report using pet shampoos for fleas or ticks during the exposure period as compared with control mothers,” said researcher Irva Hertz-Picciotto of the University of California-Davis. “The strongest association was during the second trimester, but risk was elevated for use in other time windows as well.

“It is possible that mothers of typically developing children tended to forget about their use of pesticides around the home, which could have biased the results. Nonetheless, the higher self-reported use of pet shampoos by mothers of children with ASDs raises concern about the safety of these products.”