Recently, a great concern has risen about the increasing prevalence of autism as a neurodevelopmental disorder. Environmental factors as significant contributors to children’s health through a wide range of routes are linked to remarkable increases in this disorder. It is well known and accepted that young children are more vulnerable to environmental toxins, compared to adults. Modern day lifestyles with more mercury and lead exposures, fast food, cell phones, and microwaves place children at higher risk of neurotoxicity. Moreover, a huge number of synthetic chemicals termed as high-production-volume (HPV) chemicals are found in many products such as medications, cosmetics, building materials, plastic, and car fuels. These HPVs highly contribute to brain damage in developing infants. Other environmental toxins include thalidomide, valproic acid, misoprostol, and many infectious agents among which are pathogenic bacteria or their metabolites are found to be neurotoxic and/or linked to incidences of autism. This chapter summarizes the most important routes of exposure to environmental neurotoxins and explains how these toxins are related to the remarkable increase in the prevalence of autism through different etiological mechanisms such as oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, impaired neurochemistry and glutamate excitotoxicity.
Part of the book: Neurotoxins