Monday, June 23, 2014

Study finds autism higher among babies born to women who exposed to pesticides in pregnancy

Pregnant women exposed to pesticides have a greater risk of giving birth to children with autism, according to a University of California Davis study published in Environmental Health Perspectives. The study found that "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," Lindsey Konkel reports for Environmental Health News. The study of 970 children was exclusive to Northern California. (Flickr photo)

Pesticides are particularly harmful to women in their second trimester, with expectant mothers exposed to chlorpyrifos – the most commonly applied organophosphate pesticide – 3.3 times more likely to have children with autism, Konkel writes. "Chlorpyrifos, once widely used to kill insects in homes and gardens, was banned for residential use in 2001 after it was linked to neurological effects in children. It is still widely used on crops, including nut trees, alfalfa, vegetables and fruits."

"The study also is the first to report a link between pyrethroids and autism," Konkel writes. "Application of pyrethroids just prior to conception meant an increased risk of 82 percent, and during the third trimester, the risk was 87 percent higher." Pyrethroids are supposed to be a better, safer alternative to organophosphates. Previous studies in California and Sweden have determined that environmental factors, such as pesticides, can have an impact on babies whose mothers were exposed to them. (Read more)

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