Plastic has taken over all the facets of our lives. And it was only recently that it was discovered that microplastics could be found in every food we eat. According to the Plastic Soup Foundation, “Animals carry microplastics in their bodies.
When they are themselves eaten, those microplastics are also ingested. This process is called ‘trophic transfer’ of microplastics. Since one animal eats another, microplastics can move through the food chain.” If this was not alarming enough, new research has uncovered how plastic additives could be the reason why people are affected by neurotypical ailments like autism and ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
What Is The Links Between Plastic Additives And Autism/ADHD?
According to scientists, the exact cause of these neurodevelopmental disorders is yet obscure. Some believe that it could be the effect of genes while others also think environmental cause do their fair share. There is still a lot to be studied about how brain chemistry and hormones work in a person identified with these conditions.
The latest research conducted by Rowan and Rutgers University found that children with these particular neurodevelopmental disorders have problems digesting BPA or Bisphenol A. BPA is usually produced in large quantities to make plastics that are polycarbonate. It is chemically evolved and is used to make water bottles, contact lenses, window frames, and many more. This makes it highly interactive with the human environment and it would be no surprise to know that they get inside our body.
In the study, Bisphenol-A and phthalate metabolism in children with neurodevelopmental disorders, the researchers studied over 100 kids who had ADHD, Autism and some didn’t. In some cases, people who had no neurodevelopmental disorders had no problems with glucuronidation. Glucuronidation is the process through which our body filters chemicals through urine. To be precise, the Glucuronic acid gets attached to the nucleophilic functional group and is discharged via bile.
The studies in Natural products Chemistry state its benefits to be “a major pathway for the metabolic elimination of parent compounds (such as 4-pompano) or primary metabolites(such as 1-naphthol) and as such can provide important means of protecting extrahepatic tissues from toxicants.” In kids with autism or ADHD, it is often seen that “kids with ASD and ADHD couldn’t clear out BPA and another similar compound called Diethylhexyl Pthalate (DEHP) with as much efficiency as other kids, potentially leading to longer exposure to their toxic effects. Detoxification of these two plasticizers is compromised in children with ASD and ADHD. Consequently, their tissues are more exposed to these two plasticizers.” In fact, the glucuronidation was just 11% in people with ASD and 17% with ADHD.
The study also elucidates the strengths and limitations of the study such as this. While it does give some insight into the complex brain processes it is also true that every child who presents the characteristics is different so one size fits all cannot work. Additionally, the study allows a peek into the study of genetics and the reaction of plastics in humans.
On the other hand, the sample size is shallow and cannot be considered authentic. Moreover, the percentage is ambiguous considering the urine collected was over a particular period of time. It could be possible that the body processes it after the collection time or more slowly than anticipated. It, therefore, concludes, “ASD and ADHD, the two disorders are clinically and metabolically different from control children but share an association with compromised detoxification pathways for the plasticizers, BPA and MEHP.”
The study’s implications are yet to be verified with a detailed study by researchers. There is also a certain group of people who don’t consider it to be a disorder and for them to find a cause is as problematic as it may seem.