PESTICIDE EXPOSURE DURING PREGNANCY AND AUTISM RISK

June 26, 2014 APA

During pregnancy, the exposure to pesticides significantly increases the risk of having a child with an autism disorder. According to a US study that was published in "Environmental Health Perspectives", this leads to a two-thirds increased risk.

Scientists from the University of California, Davis, compared the domiciles of 1,000 mothers of two to five year-olds with autism, developmental delays or normal development with local data on pesticide application.

During their pregnancy, one third of the participants lived close to sites where pesticides were applied - within a distance of 1.25 to 1.75 kilometres. "What we saw were several classes of pesticides more commonly applied near residences of mothers whose children developed autism or had delayed cognitive or other skills", said study leader Irva Hertz-Picciotto. ́

The developing foetal brain may respond to the toxins much more sensitively than that of adults, said the physicians. It was assumed that pesticides distort the structural development and neuronal signalling pathways. Whether or not certain groups of women are more vulnerable to these toxins still needs to be researched. But it was already clear that pregnant women should avoid contact with these chemicals, the researchers emphasised.

 
;