Early pesticide exposure may be linked to increased autism risk
A new study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) links environmental exposure to pesticides both before birth and during the first year of life with the increased risk of developing autism spectrum disorder. The study, the largest epidemiological study to date on the connection found that pregnant women who lived within approximately 1.2 miles of a highly sprayed agricultural area in California had children who were 10-16% more likely to develop autism and 30% more likely to develop severe autism (defined as autism that is likely to impact intellectual ability). Children exposed to the pesticides during their 1st year of life were up 50% more likely to develop autism.
The study involved 38,000 children and 11 different pesticides that had previously been linked to intellectual impairment. The study looked at exposure to air pollution, economic status and rural and urban living and concluded that pesticide exposure increased the risk.