Something to Think About the Next Time You Shampoo Your Pet

Here is a great scene to imagine right from Madison Avenue. It’s a beautiful spring day, and a handsome young couple is outside, laughing and smiling, garden hose in hand while they bathe their golden retriever. If you look closely, you might notice that the young bride is actually pregnant. What an idyllic scene!

But new research challenges the benignity of the event just described. What may actually be happening as this mother-to-be is shampooing her dog is far from the carefree, happy portrayal we’d like to embrace.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have evaluated the possible relationship between exposure to anti-flea/ anti-tick pet shampoos during pregnancy and risk for autism.

The study evaluated children aged 2 to 5 years of age and compared 333 children with autism spectrum disorder with 198 typically developing children. Specific diagnostic criteria were used to confirm that is indeed the children fulfilled the diagnosis for autism spectrum disorder.

The children’s mothers were interviewed for 90 to 100 minutes and during his interview they were asked about such things as household pest control products, weed control products, insecticide sprays, and, pet shampoos, from a period of time three months prior to conception until the child was one year of age. This is called the exposure time.

Among the many findings of this study, one of the most compelling was the fact that mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder were twice as likely to report having shampooed their pets with anti-flea/anti-take shampoo during the exposure time in comparison to mothers of typically developing children. Statistical analysis revealed that the active ingredient that correlated with these findings was pyrithrin which has been on the market for the past 20 years.

We don’t know the actual cause of autism. But we do note with great concern that its incidence is rising, dramatically. Prevalence of autism, according to the CDC, is now estimated at one in 68 births with more than 3.5 million Americans living with an autism spectrum disorder. Since 2000, the prevalence of autism in the United States, in children, has increased almost 120%. And this prevalence continues to increase.

There is no specific treatment for autism, and yet, we are now seeing more and more information that makes it clear that lifestyle choices may be playing a significant role in determining risk for this disorder. And it is for this reason that I present this information to anyone who will listen.
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