The association of environmental toxicants and autism spectrum disorders in children

Bi Su Ye, Anna Oi Wah LEUNG, Ming Hung Wong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

101 Citations (Scopus)


Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) is a set of complex neurodevelopment disorders that is prevalent in children and is increasing at a steady rate in recent years. However, the etiology of autism is still poorly understood. Humans are at higher risk of chemical exposure than in the past as a result of the increasing usage of chemicals in various fields, including food preservation, agriculture, industrial production, etc. A number of environmental agents have been suggested as contributing factors to ASD pathogenesis, which includes heavy metals (Hg and Pb), persistent organic pollutants (DDT, PBDEs and PCBs) and emerging chemicals of concern (phthalates and BPA). These three main categories of toxicants could be the cause of ASD in children. Recent research into the causes of ASD that have been linked to environment factors are reviewed in this paper. There are evidence supporting the etiological link between exposure to environmental toxicants and the development of ASD. Children exposed to these toxicants in the environment exhibit signature traits of ASD and have been reported with high body burdens of these chemicals and/or their metabolites, which may provide an explanation for the observed relation, yet comprehensive evidence in humans is limited, highlighting the need for further research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-242
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

User-Defined Keywords

  • BPA
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • PBDEs
  • PCBs
  • Phthalates


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