Scientists discovered a common food toxin lingers longer in autistic people

New research has found Bisphenol A (BPA) which can be found in food and drink packaging is harder to process in kids with autism and ADHD.

Experts from Rowan University and Rutgers University, which are based in New Jersey, have discovered that children with autism and ADHD cannot expel BPA from their bodies as quickly as neurotypical kids.

water bottle in water

BPA has been linked to both conditions previously, but this is the first study to find that children with ADHD and autism have a harder time passing the chemical.

To conduct their research, experts analysed 66 children with autism, 46 with ADHD and 37 neurotypical children. In particular, researchers looked into the process of glucuronidation – a chemical process the body uses to flush out toxins within the blood through urine.

The research found that kids with autism were 10% less able to eliminate the toxins and kids with ADHD were 17% less likely to clear out BPA and another similar compound called Diethylhexyl Phthalate (DEHP) with as much efficiency as other children, potentially leading to longer exposure to their toxic effects.

‘Detoxification of these two plasticizers is compromised in children with ADHD and autism,’ said researchers in their paper. ‘Consequently, their tissues are more exposed to these two plasticizers.’

Earlier this year, European officials reduced the amount of BPA by 20,000 times after finding that millions of people are likely consuming too much of the chemical. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows for much higher levels.

In addition, the US also has some of the highest autism and ADHD rates in the world, with the number of people being diagnosed with autism in particular increasing by 52% since 2017.

Both of these factors combined, encouraged researchers to see just how dangerous toxic chemicals can be for children with neurodivergent conditions.

The team have said that more research is needed to figure out if BPA exposure leads to an increased risk of developing one of the neurodivergent conditions.  

Image: Brian Yurasits

More on this topic:

Inquest finds discharge planning at NHS trust contributed to autistic man’s death

Legal action looms over autism and ADHD assessment suspension


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