More Evidence Agricultural Pesticides Up Autism Risk

Ashutosh Jogalekar | Medscape | June 23, 2014

A new study strengthens the evidence linking prenatal exposure to organophosphates and other commonly applied agricultural pesticides to the development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and developmental delay (DD).  "This is actually the third study to show some link with organophosphates and autism risk," principal investigator Irva Hertz-Picciotto, PhD, MPH, professor of public health sciences at the University of California (UC) Davis MIND Institute, in Sacramento, California, said in a podcast.  

"In that early developmental gestational period, the brain is developing synapses...and may well be where these pesticides are operating and affecting neurotransmission," she added in a statement.  The study was published online June 23 in Environmental Health Perspectives.

California is the top state in the nation for agricultural production, grossing $38 billion in revenue from farm crops in 2010. Statewide, approximately 200 million pounds of active pesticides are applied each year.  Dr. Hertz-Picciotto and colleagues looked for associations between living near agricultural pesticides during pregnancy and risk for ASD and DD in 970 participants in the Northern California– based Childhood Risk of Autism from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) Study...