Teacher with autistic boy

An increasing number of studies point to exposure to chemicals as a major cause of autism, CNN reported June 7.  Autism is a group of developmental disorders that affects an estimated 1 in 110 American children, can cause behavioral and socialization problems, and costs a family an estimated $3.2 million to care for over a lifetime.

The percentage of children diagnosed with autism has increased markedly in recent years, rising 17 percent since the 1990s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Vaccines have been scientifically disproved to be causes of autism, and more evidence is mounting that chemical exposure, together with genetics, are contributing factors.

"We live, breathe and start our families in the presence of toxic chemical mixtures and constant low-level toxic exposures, in stark contrast to the way chemicals are tested for safety," said Donna Ferullo, Director of Program Research at The Autism Society in a conference call with reporters.

"Lead, mercury, and other neurotoxic chemicals have a profound effect on the developing brain at levels that were once thought to be safe," she said.

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