Study finds link between pesticides and autism

WASHINGTON: A California study out Monday found that pregnant women who lived near farms where pesticides are applied had a two-thirds higher risk of having children with autism.

The findings in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives examine the association between living near commercial pesticide applications and having offspring with
autism, but do not show cause-and-effect.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that ranges in severity and has been on the rise in recent years. Health authorities say it now affects as many as one in 68 children in the
United States.

The latest research was based on data about commercial pesticide applications in California, combined with residential addresses of about 1,000 participants in a study of families with an autistic child.

“We mapped where our study participants’ lived during pregnancy and around the time of birth,” said principal investigator Irva Hertz-Picciotto, vice chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences at University of California, Davis.

California law requires detailed records on what kinds of pesticides are applied, where and when and how much.

“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.”