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Study finds link between pesticide exposure and autism

Date Published: 
June 23, 2014

A new study found that pregnant women who lived near fields where agricultural pesticides were applied were more likely to have children with autism or developmental delay. The study from the University of California, Davis, MIND Institute was published in Environmental Health Perspectives today.1

The link between pesticide exposure and developmental problems was strongest when the exposure took place in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.

Researchers examined the records of women living near California farms and fields where organophosphates, pyrethroids and carbamates were applied. They looked at pesticide application data from the California Pesticide Use Report, and compared it to the home addresses of approximately 1,000 participants in the Childhood Risk of Autism from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) Study in northern California.

An earlier study found similar results. A 2007 study in the Central California Valley found that pregnant women living closest to farms treated with pesticides had a higher risk of delivering a child who would be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.2