Exposure to agricultural pesticides during pregnancy can lead to autism

Pregnant women who lived in close proximity to fields and farms where chemical pesticides were applied experienced a two-thirds increased risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental delay, a study by researchers with the UC Davis MIND Institute has found. The associations were stronger when the exposures occurred during the second and third trimesters of the women’s pregnancies.

The large, multisite California-based study examined associations between specific classes of pesticides, including organophosphates, pyrethroids and carbamates, applied during the study participants’ pregnancies and later diagnoses of autism and developmental delay in their offspring…“While we still must investigate whether certain sub-groups are more vulnerable to exposures to these compounds than others, the message is very clear: Women who are pregnant should take special care to avoid contact with agricultural chemicals whenever possible…”

Twenty-one chemical compounds were identified in the organophosphate class, including chlorpyrifos, acephate and diazinon. The second most commonly applied class of pesticides was pyrethroids, one quarter of which was esfenvalerate, followed by lambda-cyhalothrin permethrin, cypermethrin and tau-fluvalinate. Eighty percent of the carbamates were methomyl and carbaryl…

The researchers found that during the study period approximately one-third of CHARGE Study participants lived in close proximity – within 1.25 to 1.75 kilometers – of commercial pesticide application sites. Some associations were greater among mothers living closer to application sites and lower as residential proximity to the application sites decreased, the researchers found.

Organophosphates applied over the course of pregnancy were associated with an elevated risk of autism spectrum disorder, particularly for chlorpyrifos applications in the second trimester. Pyrethroids were moderately associated with autism spectrum disorder immediately prior to conception and in the third trimester. Carbamates applied during pregnancy were associated with developmental delay.

Exposures to insecticides for those living near agricultural areas may be problematic, especially during gestation, because the developing fetal brain may be more vulnerable than it is in adults. Because these pesticides are neurotoxic, in utero exposures during early development may distort the complex processes of structural development and neuronal signaling, producing alterations to the excitation and inhibition mechanisms that govern mood, learning, social interactions and behavior.

You ain’t much safer in the heart of suburban America, either. Comparable recent studies of urban communities draw similar conclusions from industrial and transport pollution.

Poisonally, I’d suggest a return to xeriscaping nationwide. I don’t care how much rainfall you may experience, lay off the chemicals sold to dress your home up with a green, green lawn. You may be harming your next generation almost as much as the crabgrass you’re trying to eliminate.

Oh, yeah. Please lay off the spooky crap about vaccination. You’re just increasing the range of lifetime handicaps you may be inflicting upon your kiddies.

Great minds and all. Mike was noting this in “Suggestions for Posts” as I was putting it on the schedule. 🙂

12 thoughts on “Exposure to agricultural pesticides during pregnancy can lead to autism

  1. Cassandra says:

    Neonicotinoids linked to recent fall in farmland bird numbers: Research demonstrates for the first time the knock-on effects to other species of class of insecticides known to harm bees http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/09/neonicotinoids-farmland-birds “The finding represents a significant escalation of the known dangers of the insecticides and follows an assessment in June that warned that pervasive pollution by these nerve agents was now threatening all food production.”

    • Miner's Canary says:

      Autism risk linked to particulate air pollution https://bangordailynews.com/2014/12/18/health/autism-risk-linked-to-particulate-air-pollution/ Children whose mothers were exposed to high levels of fine particulate pollution in late pregnancy have up to twice the risk of developing autism as children of mothers breathing cleaner air, scientists at Harvard School of Public Health reported Thursday. The greater the exposure to fine particulates emitted by fires, vehicles and industrial smokestacks, the greater the risk, according to the study published online in Environmental Health Perspectives. U.S. diagnoses of autism soared to one in 68 children in 2010 — the most recent data — from one in 150 in 2000, government scientists reported in March. Experts are divided on how much of the increase reflects greater awareness and how much truly greater incidence.
      Although the disorder has a strong genetic basis, the increasing incidence has spurred scientists to investigate environmental causes, too, since genes do not change quickly enough to explain the rise.

  2. Justin says:

    Traces of antibiotic pesticides in fruits and vegetables may trigger unexpected allergic reactions for people with food allergies, according to a new study published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. http://time.com/3263438/pesticides-allergic-reactions/ “As far as we know, this is the first report that links an allergic reaction to fruits treated with antibiotic pesticides,” said lead study author Anne Des Roches in a press release.

    • Sez Who says:

      Reported elsewhere as: “Farm Antibiotics May Be Linked to Food Allergies : Girl’s severe reaction traced to streptomycin-treated blueberries http://www.webmd.com/news/20140903/farm-antibiotics-may-be-linked-to-food-allergies “The researchers determined that the problem was a blueberry that had been treated with streptomycin, an antibiotic that’s used in people to fight off germs and in plants to keep bacteria, fungi and algae at bay. …”Certain European countries ban the use of antibiotics for growing foods, but the United States and Canada still allow them for agricultural purposes,” Des Roches said in a journal news release. New federal rules could reduce the level of antibiotics in food, making this kind of incident less likely.”

  3. Risky Business says:

    “California regulators target popular ag pesticide for limits” (Fresno Bee, CA) http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/09/25/4144048/california-regulators-target-popular.html Alternative information: “California draws farmers’ ire in attempt to restrict common pesticide used on grapes, almonds” (Faux News) http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2014/09/25/california-draws-farmers-ire-in-attempt-to-restrict-common-pesticide-used-on/
    Meanwhile: a coalition of environmental groups is pushing for a complete nationwide ban, not just restrictions on the use of Chlorpyrifos { http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlorpyrifos } and sued the federal Environmental Protection Agency this week seeking to remove it from the market. The EPA banned all household uses of Chlorpyrifos in 2000 except for ant and roach bait in child-proof packaging. http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/09/environmental-health-groups-want-epa-decision-on-toxic-pesticide-chlorpyrifos/#.VCTC8udRdrE See also “Reading, Writing, and …Toxic Pesticides?” http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/mrotkinellman/reading_writing_and_toxic_pest.html
    “Another study examined prenatal risk factors in the same cohort of kids and was also conducted by the MIND Institute. In California, where the study took place, the exact dates of major pesticide applications commercially on golf courses parks, agricultural field, roadsides, cemeteries, and schools are known. These researchers looked at where women lived during their pregnancy and its proximity to a commercial pesticide application.
    There was a direct connection between living within 1 mile of a pesticide application during pregnancy and autism risk. If there was an organophosphate exposure anytime during pregnancy, the risk goes up 60%. If the exposure was to chlorpyrifos, one of the organophosphates, and it was during the second trimester, there was a 230% increase in risk. Chlorpyrifos is a known neurotoxin that in other models has been linked to increased autism.” Pediatric Research 2014: The Year’s Most Interesting Studies http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/831104

    • Yikes! says:

      “…If the exposure was to chlorpyrifos, one of the organophosphates, and it was during the second trimester, there was a 230% increase in risk {of prenatal autism}.”
      Meanwhile: “Despite the USDA’s prediction that 2,4-D use will increase 200 to 600 percent once Dow’s Enlist crops are approved, and the EPA’s acknowledgement that there are ‘information gaps,’ ‘key uncertainties’ and ‘insufficient information’ in the analysis of the impacts of 2,4-D on nontarget organisms, the USDA is forging ahead with this next generation of genetically engineered crops. Because 2,4-D is prone to drifting away from the field where it is applied, increased use of the herbicide will put grapes, tomatoes and all other specialty crops that are not engineered to withstand exposure to 2,4-D at risk. 2,4-D, infamous as a component of Agent Orange, the defoliant used during the Vietnam War, also has serious human health risks including non-Hodgkins lymphoma.” Food & Water Watch (9/18/14) http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/pressreleases/approval-of-24-d-tolerant-crops-speeds-up-agrichemical-treadmill/

    • Update says:

      California Moves Forward With Its Ban of a Dangerous Pesticide : Another Front Opens in the Battle Between Our Largest, Most Prosperous State and Trump’s White House https://www.dcreport.org/2019/05/15/california-moves-forward-with-its-ban-of-a-dangerous-pesticide/ Chlorpyrifos, first developed as a nerve agent in World War II, has been in commercial use since 1965 to kill insects on more than 80 crops, including apples, strawberries, grapes, corn, alfalfa and walnuts. The California ban could take up to two years to kick in. In the meantime, the state Department of Pesticide Regulation will bar aerial spraying and allow it only when there are no safer alternatives.

  4. Reality✓ says:

    “GMO Crops Mean More Herbicide, Not Less” (Forbes 7/2/13) http://www.forbes.com/sites/bethhoffman/2013/07/02/gmo-crops-mean-more-herbicide-not-less/
    News Item (9/17/14): “The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday gave final approval to new genetically modified corn and soybeans developed by Dow AgroSciences that, while heavily criticized by environmentalists and some farmers, are portrayed by Dow as an answer to weed resistance problems that limit crop production.” http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/17/us-agriculture-dow-enlist-idUSKBN0HC2JS20140917 “Dow is still awaiting approval from the Environmental Protection Agency for Enlist herbicide, which the genetically altered Enlist corn and beans are designed to tolerate.” See EPA http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/factsheets/2-4-d-glyphosate.html and USDA 2013 Draft Environmental Impact Statement http://www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/aphisdocs/24d_deis.pdf – which among other things forecasts the deregulation of Enlist traits ( http://www.enlist.com/en ) will result in an increase of the annual use of 2,4-D from 26 million pounds to 176 million pounds. Re: use of 2,4-D in Agent Orange see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agent_Orange#Chemical_description_and_toxicology

  5. says:

    “Although one in 68 children in the United States has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, no medications are currently available to cure this group of developmental disabilities. But the results of a recent small clinical trial, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that a chemical derived from broccoli sprouts may reduce the behavioral symptoms of autism by targeting the root cause of the disorder.” http://www.healthline.com/health-news/broccoli-compound-eases-autism-symptoms-101314

  6. Sittig's Handbook says:

    Pesticides in fruit and vegetables linked to semen quality http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-03/esoh-pif032715.php The first study to investigate the relationship between eating fruit and vegetables containing pesticide residues and the quality of men’s semen has shown a link with lower sperm counts and percentages of normally-formed sperm. The study, which is published online today (Tuesday) in Human Reproduction, one of the world’s leading reproductive medicine journals, shows that men who ate the highest amount of fruit and vegetables with high levels of pesticide residue had a 49% lower sperm count and a 32% lower percentage of normally-formed sperm than men who consumed the least amount. An accompanying editorial says the findings have important implications for human health. The fruit and vegetables were categorised as being high, moderate or low in pesticide residues based on data from the annual United States Department of Agriculture Pesticide Data Program. Fruit or vegetables that were low in pesticide residues included peas, beans, grapefruit and onions. Those that had high residues included peppers, spinach, strawberries, apples and pears. These data took account of usual practice in food preparation, such as whether the fruit and vegetables had been peeled and washed. Pesticide use varies from country to country, but in the USA those used on fruit and vegetables include Atrazine, Malathion, Chlorpyrifos and Carbendazim.

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