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Autism Linked To Common Agricultural Practice In New Study

Piles of research tell us about the health and environmental dangers of pesticides. Agricultural pesticides have been linked to dangerous health problems including cancer, birth defects, Alzheimer's disease and kidney failure, just to name a few. According to a recent study, they're also linked to autism.

Pesticides And Autism Spectrum Disorder

A study from the University of California, Davis, found that pregnant women who live in close proximity to land where pesticides are applied experience a two-thirds increased riskof having a child with autism spectrum disorder. Researchers looked at associations between pesticides that were applied during the participants' pregnancies and a later diagnosis or autism or a developmental delay in their children. The study included organophosphates, the main ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide. Published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, the study concluded that proximity to organophosphates alone at some point during pregnancy was associated with a 60% increased risk of autism spectrum disorder. Lead author of the study Janie F. Shelton, explained, "This study validates the results of earlier research that had reported associations between having a child with autism and prenatal exposure to agricultural chemicals in California. 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." The study reads, "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 behaviour." This study adds to the piles of research detailing the harmful effects of agricultural pesticides. One study detailed how glyphosate toxicity leads to the suppression of critical enzymes, which can lead to health issues such as heart disease, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and autism. A study published in the journal Biomedical Research International shows that Roundup herbicide alone is 125 times more toxic than than its active ingredient, glyphosate. The data proving how dangerous these chemicals are seems endless, yet it doesn't seem like agricultural pesticides are going away anytime soon.

Watch the video below for more information on the link between pesticides and autism:

Sources: Collective Evolution Environmental Health Perspectives NCBI MDPI