By Miguel Jara
The results of the Denamic project (Developmental Neurotoxicity Assessment of Mixtures in Children) can be consulted on the website of the European Commission, the Government of the EU. I have had knowledge of the matter thanks to the blog of María José Moya, affected by Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (SQM) that offers all the information.
The conclusions of this large study confirm what we already knew, that exposure to polluting chemicals, even at low levels, can affect children's brain development. This occurs during pregnancy, lactation and at an early age and can influence their cognitive and motor development.
This is key to understanding the appearance of disorders such as attention deficit, autism or anxiety.
The objective of Denamic's work has been to create methods and tools to analyze the consequences of this exposure to polluting chemicals in the phases where the main part of brain development occurs.
The developing brain is, in many cases, the most sensitive target to the effects of these substances.
One of the Spanish participants in the European study has been the Prince Felipe Research Center (CIPF) of Valencia, led by Vicente Felipo.
His laboratory has been in charge of characterizing the effects of exposure to different types of pesticides and other pollutants on different aspects of cognitive function and on motor activity and coordination.
He has also analyzed the molecular mechanisms by which pollutants induce these effects. In addition, he has identified the role of neuroinflammation in the hippocampus and alterations in cerebellar neurotransmission on pesticide-induced alterations in learning and motor coordination.
Different pesticides induce different effects and these effects are also different according to gender depending on the neurological function evaluated. He has been the one who has warned that exposure to these types of pollutants is a "silent pandemic."
The reason? Well, because although this problem affects millions of children around the world, as the levels of exposure are very low, it is difficult to relate these conditions to events such as the mother having ingested mercury during pregnancy, for example through fish.
As I write, the project has lasted for four years, from January 2012 to December 31, 2015 and has resulted in numerous publications. Its results will provide the European Union and the World Health Organization (WHO) with results, methodology and recommendations to manage the risks of exposure to chemical contaminants.
The research team has produced a report (in English) entitled Young Minds at Risk ?, which warns about the neurotoxicity of contaminants present in food, water and other products such as insecticides and how exposure to these contaminants affects children:
I can't help but remember that while the Zika virus epidemic unfolds in countries like Brazil. There are medical associations there that point to the use of insecticides in drinking water as a possible cause of microcephaly cases. Pesticides such as pyriproxyfen damage the nervous systems of the mosquitoes that carry dengue or Zika.
The WHO endorses the product and the Brazilian Government denies the doctors saying that there are localities where there is microcephaly but that poison is not used. The health authorities say that there are no epidemiological studies that verify this causal relationship. All the more reason to do them urgently as jobs like the Denamic do what they do is point in a similar direction.
These data will help the European Union in the legislation on neurotoxic potentials and to mark the tolerable levels of these substances, have indicated the same sources. I start from the basis that there are no tolerable levels for all people equally, some hold up better than others depending on what levels.
There are people who do not methylate, detoxify, well certain substances, such as heavy metals, because their genetic makeup is not ideal. These people can develop chronic poisonings from it at very low levels of exposure.
Nor can I help but remember when reading the cited conclusions of this study the "epidemic" of diagnoses of autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in childhood in Western countries.
Controversial "pharmaceutical fads" aside from the concept of ADHD, the study shows that what was already known is also true, that children can suffer from inattention, for example at school, caused by chronic intoxication with toxic products everyday. These reach your body at very low doses but for a long time (from pregnancy itself) and from many different substances and sources.