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Autism Linked to Pesticide Exposure During Pregnancy?

Kimberly Love

There has been plenty of debate regarding what causes autism in children. Many theories have been examined in regards to what causes autism such as vaccinations and extreme exposure to air pollution but a new study that has come out recently has a new idea. The MIND Institute at the University of California did a study that suggests that chemical pesticides may be the reason for autism developing in pregnant women. The study goes on to say that expectant mothers have a higher risk of having an autistic child if they live near fields or farms that use chemical pesticides.

The findings were published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives by Janie F. Shelton of the Department of Public Health Services.

Autism is known as a brain development problem that can cause many disorders. People with autism may have trouble with social interactions, verbal and nonverbal communication and adopt many repetitive behaviours.

Austism in children has increased 20% in the past few years according to the US Centre for Disease Control. In 2014 the number of children born with autism was at a rate of 1 in 68.

The study conducted was to determine whether proximity to chemical pesticides caused autism or other developmental delays. They came to the shocking conclusion that being near those pesticides on a regular basis increased the risk by two thirds. They believe expectant mothers who lived near those areas were far more likely to give birth to an autistic child then someone without any exposure to the pesticides.

The study consisted of questionnaires that were given out to expectant mothers to determine where they resided. Once the participants residence were located they determined the pesticide usage in those areas by taking data from the California Pesticide Use Report.

Researchers determined that pesticides caused damage to the fetus’s developing brain by interfering with neurotransmitters. This area of the brain is responsible for a person’s behaviour, mood, social interactions and ability to learn.

Researchers say there is a lot that could still be done to help if you cannot move away from the areas using pesticides. Prenatal vitamins are an absolute must during pregnancy to fight against such things. They may help to reduce the risk of autism in the unborn child. Pregnant women should still do whatever they can to avoid any areas that are using chemical pesticides to reduce exposure to them.

Another such study was conducted by the University of Chicago that reported similar findings. The study they conducted was in regards to male children who were born with genital malformation. They determined that male children who lived in the county and had exposure to pesticides as well as other environmental toxins had a higher chance of being born with genitals that weren’t formed properly.

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