Learning disabilities have a profound effect on a child's educational progress and self-confidence. The effects on the child's family are profound as well. According to a report in the July 2012 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, "Autism, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), mental retardation, dyslexia, and other biologically based disorders of brain development affect between 400,000 to 600,000 of the 4 million children born in the United States each year." The CDC states that "about 1 in 88 children has been identified with an Autism Spectrum Disorder," a rate of 11.3%. ADHD affects about 14% of children.
Potential environmental causes of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) have been identified in recent years. According to the EHP report, autistic behaviors, loss of cognition (IQ), dyslexia, and ADHD have been linked to a wide range of chemicals that children and pregnant women are exposed to every day.
In order to continue to focus on the environmental causes of NDDs, a workshop was coordinated between the Mt. Sinai Children's Environmental Health Center, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and Autism Speaks. Among other things, the workshop generated a list of "10 chemicals and mixtures widely distributed in the environment that are already suspected of causing" NDDs such as autism and ADHD. Those chemicals are:
- Polycholorinated biphenyls
- Organophosphate pesticides
- Organochlorine pesticides
- Endocrine disrupters
- Automotive exhaust
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
- Brominated flame retardants
- Perflourinated compounds