In an article published on March 7, 2015 in the Endocrinology Advisor, journalist John Schieszer reports on new research results showing that autistic-like behaviors may be associated with prenatal exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). On March 5, 2015, Stephanie Degroote from the University of Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, presented the new findings at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting (ENDO 2015) in San Diego, U.S.. Several phthalates and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are known EDCs. Since humans are often exposed to these chemicals at the same time, Degroote and colleagues investigated the behavior relevant to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in rats prenatally exposed to a mixture of phthalates and PBDEs. The authors also included several food contact substances such as diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP, CAS 117-81-7) and dibutyl phthalate (DBP, CAS 84-74-2). The study was performed in pregnant rats divided into three groups. The first group was orally exposed to low doses of the EDC mixture. The second group was unexposed. The third group was given valproic acid, a drug known to induce autistic symptoms. Behavioral tests were then administered to offspring. Rats prenatally exposed to the EDC mixture showed behavior similar to those seen in humans with ASD. These pups had reduced social interactions and showed hyperactivity in comparison to the unexposed animals. Males demonstrated less maternal bonding relative to their female counterparts. The third group, used as a rat model of autism, exhibited similar abnormal behaviors. The results show that concurrent exposure to several EDCs, even at low doses, can have an effect on brain development and lead to autistic features, concludes Degroote.

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John Schieszer (March 7, 2015). “Autistic features associated with prenatal exposure to endocrine disruptors.Endocrinology Advisor

Degroote, S. et al. (March 5, 2015). “Perinatal exposure to a mixture of common low-dose phthalates and flame retardants leads to autistic features in rats.” 97th Annual Meeting of the Endocrine Society, San Diego, U.S.