New Study Links Pesticide Exposure To Autism

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What causes autism is a medical mystery that continues to baffle experts as they search high and low by conducting research studies to determine the culprit. While there are certainly plenty of theories floating around regarding what does and does not cause autism, there has never been anything definitely proven as a cause.

According to a new study published by The BMJ, children exposed to common pesticides in the womb or prior to turning a year old have a higher risk of developing the autism spectrum disorder.

While researchers and scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) who conducted the study wanted to clarify it is still too early to claim exposure to pesticide will actually cause a child to develop autism, this isn’t the first study to focus on how dangerous the exposure can be to early brain development.

The scientists and researchers who worked on the study tracked approximately 3,000 California children born between the years of 1998 and 2010 who were diagnosed with autism for exposure to 11 different common pesticides.

The study took these children and compared them to 35,000 children in California born at the same time who did not have an autism diagnosis.

The 11 pesticides the researchers focused on during this study have all been previously confirmed to pose an extreme risk to brain development.

After combing through all their data, the scientists concluded that pregnant women who lived 1.2 miles away from areas heavily sprayed with pesticides were between 10 to 16 percent more likely to give birth to a child with autism. Statistics also revealed the risk was even higher for women to give birth to children with severe autism. For children exposed to pesticides after being born and before they turn one, the risk jumped to nearly 50 percent.

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Author and activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. took to Twitter to explain that part of what made this study hold so much more merit than previous studies is the fact that they took the time to research exposure both before a child is born and after a child is born.

According to Amanda Bakian, co-author of the editorial attached to the study, the researchers focused exclusively on a child’s exposure to outside air containing pesticides. The results of the study did not include any pesticides that a child may or may not be exposed to from within the air of their own home.

“So, we can’t necessarily generalize the findings to apply to other settings or environments,” she explained.

Amanda proceeded to clarify that it is important to keep in mind that pesticide exposure is far from the whole story as medical experts believe there are other factors that make some children more likely to develop autism than others.