Everyday items such as food, toys and clothes are bringing children closer to toxic chemicals, thus leading to brain development problems like autism, dyslexia and hyperactivity, says a new study.
The research revealed that items on the list of industrial chemicals known to damage human brain had risen from 202 to 214. It said even infants and unborn children are not left untouched by these toxic chemicals. Children who are affected by these toxic substances usually show decreased attention span, delayed development and poor performance in schools, cerebral palsy. One out of six children across the globe suffer from these problems caused by industrial chemicals.
In the wake of studies showing links between the increased levels of these chemicals in expectant mothers' blood and urine and brain disorders in their children, governments across the globe should put a check on the massive use of these industrial chemicals, said researchers.
"Current chemical regulations are woefully inadequate to safeguard children whose developing brains are uniquely vulnerable to toxic chemicals in the environment," said Dr Philippe Grandjean of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
He said the European Union did take action to ban and regulating certain chemicals known to affect children's and adults' health, but the US and Canada need to be prompt in taking action.
They said the changes brought about in the brain by these chemicals are irreversible. "The consequence of such brain damage is impaired (central nervous system) function that lasts a lifetime and might result in reduced intelligence, as expressed in terms of lost IQ points, or disruption in behaviour," they said in the report, published in journal Lancet Neurology.
As a precautionary measure, these chemicals should be tested before they reach the market and countries should adopt some policy for this, researchers said.
Some of the industrial chemicals known to affect normal brain development are manganese, fluoride, chlorpyrifos, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, tetrachloroethylene and polybrominated diphenyl ethers. Manganese, found in drinking water, can increase hyperactivity in a person and also lead to his lower math scores. Due to increased levels of fluoride from drinking water, a person's IQ can drop by seven points, on an average. Other chemicals can be found in solvents and pesticides and can trigger heightened aggressive behaviours.