Oct. 23, 2008 -- Question: Is it possible that some new household item, such as clothes dryer softener, could be the cause of increased autism?
Answer: There are many substances and household products about which we don't know that much in terms of their impact on brain development and on health. And it is possible that substances that we use in our washing machines or in cleaning our houses or in pesticides that we use on our own bodies and on our animals may contribute to the risk of autism. A recent study showed that certain anti-flea pesticides were associated with a doubled risk of autism.
So, I think it's important to minimize the use of chemicals that we are not completely sure about and try to accomplish what we need to accomplish around the house in as simple and healthy and green a way as possible. Over time, we're learning that many things we thought were safe have risks at much lower doses then we used to think. So, I think that prudence is really the best policy at this time.