Strong Link Between Autism and Pesticide Exposure

In recent months, researchers have been quite adamant that environmental factors play just as an important role as genetics in the development of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). An increasing number of researchers have focused on environmental pollutants, which range from pesticides, to mercury and diesel. These toxins are thought to alter the brain development of fetuses. A new study confirms that pregnant women who live in environments where pesticides are heavily used, see the risk of having a child with autism increase by 60 percent.

Dan Rossignol, an autism expert at Jeff Bradstreet’s International Child Development Resource Center in Florida, states, “Pesticides are one of the toxicants that appear to have the strongest association with autism”. He adds that these latest results “strengthen that association.”

This recent study incorporated dated from the California Pesticide Use Report, focusing on the residential addresses of almost 1,000 children involved in the CHARGE (Childhood Autism Risks from Genes and Environment) Study. The data allowed scientists to make connections between various developmental delays, and the types of chemicals that mothers may have been exposed to before conception, and during pregnancy.

Janie Shelton, epidemiologist at the University of California Davis, lead author of the study, states, “Women who live within a mile of organophosphate or pyrethroids agricultural pesticide applications were more likely to have a child with autism spectrum than women living further away.” The risk of Autism development could go up “as much as 3-fold” when women are exposed to these pesticides later in pregnancy, particularly the third trimester.

Scientists will need to investigate these results further, and certain steps will need to be taken in order to help decrease the exposure of these pesticides to women that are expecting. One of the goals of the researchers is to find out if certain sub-groups are more vulnerable to pesticide exposure. But, regardless of the outcome, Shelton thinks the message is clear: Pregnant women should avoid contact with agricultural pesticides.

The ICare4Autism International Autism Conference will be discussing other significant medical research in NYC on July 1st. Speakers include Dr. Celine Saulnier, Clinical Director for Research, Marcus Autism Center, and Assistant Professor, Division of Autism and Related Disorders at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Saulnier will be giving a fascinating presentation on Detecting the Risk for ASD in the First Year of Life. This conference is only a few days away, and you won’t want to miss out! Please select your tickets here.

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  1. Posted March 23, 2016 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

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