Therapy room at Lighthouse Autism Center with toys on a table with blue chairs and book shelves above

Clinical Corner – October 2014

Autism risk higher near pesticide-treated fields, study says

Environmental Health News: Published by Environmental Health Sciences

By Lindsey Konkel, Staff Writer

Babies whose moms lived within a mile of crops treated with widely used pesticides were
more likely to develop autism, according to new research published June 23, 2014. The study, conducted by the University of California, Davis, included 970 children born in farm-rich areas of Northern California. They study suggested that mothers’ exposures during pregnancy may play a role in the development of autism spectrum disorders.

In this study, children with mothers who lived less than one mile from fields treated with organophosphate pesticides during pregnancy were about 60 percent more likely to have autism than children whose mothers did not live close to treated fields. When women in the second trimester lived near fields treated with chlorpyrifos – the most commonly applied organophosphate pesticide – their children were 3.3 times more likely to have autism.

The study also is the first to report a link between pyrethroid pesticides and autism. Application of pyrethroids just prior to conception meant an increased risk of 82 percent and, during the their trimester, the risk was 87 percent higher.

The researchers said that pesticides could impair brain development and signaling in a way that affects social interactions, learning and behavior.

To read more of the October issue of The Autism Beacon, click here.

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