We’ve explored whether autism is caused by aging sperm in the father or excessive cleanliness in the mother, but here’s another possible cause: plastic!

Some of the common chemicals we’re exposed to every day may not just damage us genetically–we may pass that damage down to future generations. One of the most common of these is bisphenol-A (BPA), which has already been banned in some places. It’s found in everything from plastics to canned food to A.T.M. receipts, and more than 90% of Americans have it in their urine. Studies have linked BPA to breast cancer and diabetes, as well as to hyperactivity, aggression and depression in children.

Researcher suspect it may have something to do with autism because When pregnant mice were exposed to BPA at in the same amounts that humans usually receive, their offspring were less sociable than control mice. The BPA seemed to interfere with the way the mice processed hormones like oxytocin and vasopressin, which affect trust and warm feelings.

In the August 25th edition of the New York Times, Nicholas D. Kristof quotes researcher Jennifer T. Wolstenholme as saying, "It’s scary."

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