16. Intellectual Developmental Disability Syndromes and Organic Chemicals

  1. David O. Carpenter
  1. David O. Carpenter

Published Online: 26 JUL 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118679654.ch16

Effects of Persistent and Bioactive Organic Pollutants on Human Health

Effects of Persistent and Bioactive Organic Pollutants on Human Health

How to Cite

Carpenter, D. O. (2013) Intellectual Developmental Disability Syndromes and Organic Chemicals, in Effects of Persistent and Bioactive Organic Pollutants on Human Health (ed D. O. Carpenter), John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ, USA. doi: 10.1002/9781118679654.ch16

Editor Information

  1. University at Albany, Institute for Health and the Environment

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 JUL 2013
  2. Published Print: 16 AUG 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781118159262

Online ISBN: 9781118679654

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Keywords:

  • attention deficit/hyperactivity syndrome (ADHD;);
  • autism spectrum disorder (ASD;);
  • disability syndromes;
  • environmental contaminants;
  • fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD;);
  • organic chemicals

Summary

Background: Organic chemicals cause and/or are suspected to cause a number of different syndromes that are characterized by anatomical and physiological changes in the brain and cognitive and behavioral abnormalities.

Objectives: This review will discuss peer-reviewed publications on what is known of the etiology of three syndromes: fetal alcohol syndrome disorder (FASD), attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Discussion: FASD is caused only by early prenatal exposure to alcohol. It varies in severity and is accompanied by significant abnormalities in brain and body structure and altered cognitive function and neurobehavior. While the effects of exposure to several organic compounds, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), give rise to symptoms of ADHD, it is still unclear whether exposure to environmental contaminants is the only cause of the syndrome. In contrast, while there are many reasons to suspect that ASDs are caused by exposure to environmental contaminants, there is little hard evidence that this is the case. Both ADHD and autism are also accompanied by alterations in brain structure as well as function.

Conclusions: Prenatal or early-life exposure to a number of different organic chemicals causes abnormalities in brain development that result in anatomic changes, cognitive decrements, and behavioral changes. However, the mechanistic basis for these syndromes is still incompletely understood.