Exposure of developing fetuses and newborns to low levels of environmental toxins such as lead, mercury and dioxin, as well as nicotine and ethanol, could be behind the recent sharp rises in asthma, allergies and autoimmune disorders like lupus, says a Cornell University researcher.
The real dangers from environmental toxins most likely occur early in life, said Rod Dietert, professor of immunotoxicology at Cornells College of Veterinary Medicine, presenting a paper on the topic Oct. 4 at the 14th Immunotoxicology Summer School Conference in Lyon, France. However, most laboratory studies look at the health effects of the toxins on adult animals.
"We are deluding ourselves to think that adult data are going to allow us to understand the risks of perinatal exposures," said Dietert, referring to the period close to the time of birth. "Right now, we underestimate health risks that are occurring due to early exposure."
Blaine Friedlander Jr. | EurekAlert!
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