New study shows link between prenatal and infant pesticide exposure and autism in children

The authors of the study believe it's imperative to "avoid prenatal and infant exposure to pesticides to protect early brain development."

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Image Credit: Pesticide Action Network

A new study published in The BMJ linked an association between early developmental exposure to ambient pesticides and autism. The population based case-control study’s results determined that the “risk of autism spectrum disorder was associated with prenatal exposure to glyphosate, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, malathion, avermectin, and permethrin” according to the study.

The study, which was supported by the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, was comprised of 2,961 children born in California between 1998 and 2010, who were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Of the nearly 3,000 children, 445 were diagnosed with intellectual disability comorbidity. The study’s population was “identified through records maintained at the California Department of Developmental Services and linked to their birth records,” according to the study.

The researchers then used data from California’s mandated Pesticide Use Reporting in which the study used a geographic information system that measured pounds of pesticides applied per acre per month within a 2,000 meter radius (1.2 miles) from the maternal residence to determine prenatal and infant exposure to pesticides. This geographical area was comprised of Central Valley – California’s main agricultural region.

The study’s conclusion stated:

“Findings suggest that an offspring’s risk of autism spectrum disorder increases following prenatal exposure to ambient pesticides within 2000 m of their mother’s residence during pregnancy, compared with offspring of women from the same agricultural region without such exposure. Infant exposure could further increase risks for autism spectrum disorder with comorbid intellectual disability.”

The authors of the study believe it’s important to “avoid prenatal and infant exposure to pesticides to protect early brain development.”

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While previous study’s have linked common pesticides to neurodevelopmental impairment, this study adds that the prenatal or infant exposure to ambient pesticides should be avoided at all costs to protect public health and prevent children from being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

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