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. 🙂