Pregnant women who live in close proximity to fields and farms where chemical pesticides are applied experience a 66 percent increased risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder or developmental delay, a 2014 study by researchers at the University of California, Davis, MIND Institute has found.
Approximately 200 million pounds of pesticides are applied in California each year. This large study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, examined associations between applications of pesticides during the study participants’ pregnancies and later diagnoses of autism and developmental delay in their children. Specific classes of pesticides studied were organophosphates, pyrethroids and carbamates.
For the study, researchers obtained study participants’ addresses during their preconception and pregnancy periods. They then overlaid the addresses on maps with the locations of agricultural chemical application sites based on pesticide-use reports, and categorized participants into different zones depending on whether they lived within 1.25 kilometers (km), 1.5 km or 1.75 km of application sites. Associations with children who developed autism or had delayed cognitive or other skills were higher the closer mothers lived to application sites, and lower the farther away they lived.
Different classes of pesticides had different effects. Organophosphates, particularly chlorpyrifos applications during the second trimester, were associated with an elevated risk of autism. Pyrethroids were moderately associated with autism, and carbamates were associated with developmental delay.
Researcher Irva Hertz-Picciotto cautions that we should find ways to reduce pesticide exposure, especially for pregnant women and young children. “We need to open up a dialogue about how this can be done, at both a societal and individual level,” she says. To read the full study on the link between pesticides and autism, go to the Environmental Health Perspectives website.
Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!LEARN MORE
At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).
You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.