D.A. Rossignol and R.E. Frye

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a heterogeneous group of neurodevelopmental disorders that are defined solely on the basis of behavioral observations. Therefore, ASD has traditionally been framed as a behavioral disorder. However, evidence is accumulating that ASD is characterized by certain physiological abnormalities, including oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction and immune dysregulation/inflammation. 

D.A. Rossignol, S.J. Genuis and R.E. Frye

Although the involvement of genetic abnormalities in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is well-accepted, recent studies point to an equal contribution by environmental factors, particularly environmental toxicants. However, these toxicant-related studies in ASD have not been systematically reviewed to date. Therefore, we compiled publications investigating potential associations between environmental toxicants and ASD and arranged these publications into the following three categories: (a) studies examining estimated toxicant exposures in the environment during the preconceptional, gestational and early childhood periods; (b) studies investigating biomarkers of toxicants; and (c) studies examining potential genetic susceptibilities to toxicants. 

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