Household environmental toxins and neurodevelopment in children
Brandt, Brittany Lee.
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Neurodevelopmental disorders diagnosed in children, such as ADHD, autism, Tourette's syndrome, learning disabilities, dyslexia, mental retardation, and cerebral palsy, are thought to arise from complex interactions between genetic, social and environmental factors. The increasing prevalence of some of these disorders in children over the past thirty years has precipitated more research into preventable environmental causes. Environmental toxins, such as heavy metals and synthetic chemicals, are among the targets of investigation by researchers. This literature review examines what is known from current research about neurodevelopment and exposure to the following household environmental toxins: PBDEs, pesticides, mercury, lead, and bisphenol A. Variables reviewed include source, neurological effects, and ways to reduce exposure to each toxin. Relevant articles were retrieved through keyword search of Medline database. Online government databases were also utilized. Results of the literature review indicate adverse neurological effects of developmental exposure to PBDEs, pesticides, mercury, lead and bisphenol A are similar to diagnostic features of some neurodevelopmental disorders. Adverse effects associated with exposures include: hyperactivity, aggression, decreased IQ, and impairments in attention, memory, fine and gross motor skills, social behavior, and communication. Nurses are often the first and sometimes the only health care provider working with children and families. As such, they are in an ideal position to address possibly harmful environmental exposures. Including screening for toxic exposures and addressing prevention is recommended during all primary care visits with children and is increasingly considered an expected practice by leading health care institutions.