Philip Landrigan Delivers Presentation on Environmental Contributors to Autism

Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center Director, Philip J. Landrigan, MD, MSc, outlines the need for expanding research into environmental causes of autism.

 – July 16, 2010 /Press Release/  –– 

Philip J. Landrigan, MD, MSc, Director of the Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center (CEHC), delivered a presentation titled “What Causes Autism? The Case for an Environmental Contribution,” on July 16 at the Meeting of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee in Bethesda, Maryland. The presentation outlined the need to expand research into environmental causes of autism.

As a federal advisory committee, the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee coordinates all efforts in the Department of Health and Human Services regarding autism spectrum disorder, and facilitates dialogue between public and federal investigators to ensure that these ideas are presented in a public forum.

Today’s children are surrounded by thousands of synthetic chemicals. According to Dr. Landrigan, 200 of these chemicals have been identified as neurotoxic in adult humans, and 1,000 additional chemicals have been identified as neurotoxic in laboratory models. However, fewer than 20 percent of these high-volume chemicals have been tested for neurodevelopmental toxicity.

To explore the possible contribution of early environmental exposures, Dr. Landrigan proposes a “targeted discovery strategy.” In a transdisciplinary effort, this research strategy focuses on highlighting target chemicals in today’s environment and devising a list of those that need to be studied most urgently as possible causes of autism.

Dr. Landrigan’s presentation builds on the Children’s Environmental Health Center’s newest initiative, the Autism and Learning Disabilities Discovery and Prevention Project, which was launched in May 2010.

Led by Dr. Landrigan and involving researchers from Mount Sinai, this project investigates the undiscovered causes of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders, building the research infrastructure that we need to support our studies to examine the impacts of environmental chemicals on children’s health and early development.

Using results from these studies, the Autism and Learning Disabilities Discovery and Prevention Project seeks to turn these discoveries into a blueprint for prevention, employing skillful, evidence-based advocacy.

About the Children's Environmental Health Center

Mount Sinai's Children's Environmental Health Center conducts research to protect children against environmental threats to health. Our investigations seek to discover the environmental causes of such diseases as asthma, learning disabilities, autism, obesity, and childhood cancer. We transmit our research to pediatricians, policy makers, parents, and all who care for children.