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A. Researchers Seek to Better Understand Autism

Narrator: This is Science Today. One of the fastest growing developmental disabilities in this country is autism, a neurological disorder that affects normal functioning of the brain and impacts areas of social interaction and communication skills. About 1.5 million American children and adults are affected and yet, there is no known single cause for autism. Researcher Irva Hertz-Picciotto of the University of California , Davis Mind Institute, says they're interested in looking into a wide variety of environmental factors.

Hertz-Picciotto: Metals are one important class of chemical compounds that have a known effect, in that they do affect the nervous system.

Narrator: Picciotto, an environmental epidemiologist, says the Mind Institute is also interested in pesticides.

Hertz-Picciotto: Pesticides are used widely. They're used around buildings, they're used in agriculture. So pesticides are of interest because often the pesticides are designed to affect the nervous system of other species, whether it's rodents or insects.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.