I came across this latest article by Howard SG, Lee DH. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2011 Apr 17. [Epub ahead of print] trying to find the link between human contamination by environmental chemicals and type 1 diabetes mellitus. This was prompted by the unexplained increase in incidence of type 1 diabetes (T1D) in children around the world.
Several literatures have shown links between environmental chemicals in the pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes mellitus, autoimmune diseases etc, the possibility that environmental chemicals eg the endocrine disruptors could promote autoimmune disorders thus predisposing individuals to the development of type 1 diabetes mellitus.
The Abstract reads as follows: “The increasing incidence of type 1 diabetes (T1D) in children around the world is unexplained. Even though various environmental chemicals have been linked to the development of type 2 diabetes as well as other autoimmune diseases, the possibility that environmental chemicals may contribute to the development of T1D has not been adequately evaluated. There is preliminary epidemiological evidence that exposure to certain chemicals, such as N-nitroso compounds, air pollutants and persistent organic pollutants is associated with T1D. Environmental chemicals that can act as endocrine disruptors may affect the development and function of the immune system in ways that could promote autoimmunity, and thereby contribute to the development of T1D. As such, the potential low-dose effects of chemicals should be considered in both epidemiological and experimental study designs of T1D. If chemicals indeed contribute to the development of T1D, then this disease may be partly preventable.”
It is hoped that this would help encourage more researchers to contribute on this important topic.
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Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, also referred to as endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs), are chemicals widely present in variety of consumer products. Interestingly, these two chemicals have link to atypical childhood social behaviourism.
A study recently finds that children with higher foetal exposure to both phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA) have impaired social functioning. The social behaviour, including difficult interpersonal and social awareness skills, reported by the mothers are similar to those associated with ADHD and autism.
The EDCs are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s hormones. These hormones are important to brain development and changes in their levels during pregnancy might result in brain changes that could lead to altered childhood behaviour. Some researchers believe that hormonal changes during pregnancy may increase the risk of autism or ADHD.
Of the two EDCs, BPA is used in polycarbonate plastics, thermal receipts and food can linings whereas Phthalates are found in food packaging, cosmetics, personal care products and vinyl plastics.
It has been shown that children with autism and ADHD often show impaired social cognition. Children with these disorders have atypical social communication, mannerisms and responsiveness; they often need special education and health services throughout their lives. Social responsiveness refers to a child’s ability to process and respond to interactions with other people.
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In view of the role played by medical doctors in the society, there is a stark warning from an unusual alliance of physicians and military leaders that medical doctors should take a leading role in highlighting the dangers of climate change, which will lead to conflict, disease and ill-health, and which threatens global security.
The group comprising of military and medical experts, includes two rear admirals and two professors of health, sent out an urgent message to governments around the world in a writing in the British Medical Journal of 5th April 2011.
The group further observed that while medical journals have highlighted the problems of climate change in the past, only few physicians have spoken out on the issue.
It is interesting to note that this warning came at the right time as government officials and policy makers from around the world met in Bangkok under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in continuation of the long-running talks. The Bangkok conference, though low-key and not expected to produce a breakthrough, is a preliminary session to the major meeting in Durban coming up this December.