Scientists at Duke University say a substance found in many plastics could inhibit the development of the central nervous system. The report says bisphenol-A, widely known as BPA, can suppress the chemical chain of events that allows neurons to improve their functioning early in life.
"It disrupts this process and it corrupts this process," says Dr. Wolfgang Liedtke, lead author of the study.
"And that, for example, would be a scenario that fits very nicely to the setting of neuro-developmental diseases, where we see an exponential growth in the number of cases that are being diagnosed year by year."
Liedtke says BPA had harsher effects on female neurons harvested from mice, rats and aborted human fetuses. He says that suggests BPA exposure could be linked to autism disorders such as Rett Syndrome, which is almost exclusively found in girls. The study appears in Monday's edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.