Want an excuse not to varnish that chair? How about this new study which says it could raise your kids' risk of autism.

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Published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorder, the study looked at the parents of 93 kids with autism-spectrum diagnoses and 81 kids without. Parents were asked to fill out questionnaires listing what chemicals they'd been exposed to from three months before conception til the end of breastfeeding. They were also asked about their jobs as experts wanted evaluate their chemical exposure based on their employment history.

The findings revealed that parents who were exposed to lacquers, varnishes, asphalt, or xylene (a solvent found in some ink, rubber, and paint thinner) were more likely to have autistic kids than those who weren't exposed. Previous research had also found a link between prenatal chemical exposure could predispose kids to autism.

This probably isn't a huge issue for the occasional home-improver — but for people who work with varnish and other solvents as part of their jobs, it could be a big problem. But due to the small sample size of the study, they don't want members of the public to start panicking just yet. They write:
Our study has both limitations and strengths. It was limited by the small sample size given the large number of exposures evaluated and the low prevalence of some of the exposures. Nevertheless, as one of the first studies in several decades to systematically evaluate parental job exposures and risk of ASD, this evaluation of several dozen potentially biologically relevant occupational agents provides a first pass screen from which results can be used to target future research directions.
via sciencedaily