Autism spectrum disorder linked to regions where synthetic pesticides are used

Photo Credit: Robert Campbell

A study recently published in The BMJ Journal found that prenatal and infant exposure to pesticides consistently correlated with higher risk of autism in children. The strongest correlations were with exposure to chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and avermectin. Researchers analyzed exposure across three developmental stages--three months before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and the first year of child development--and controlled for other environmental and maternal factors such as air pollution and mother’s age. The researchers chose to analyze 11 pesticides that have been shown to interfere with neurological development.  This study shows important implications for families living in agriculturally intensive areas where toxic pesticides are regularly used.