Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Autism and pesticides

Back when I was teaching in the Mississippi Delta, I would often see crop dusters during my morning 
drive. They would make slow, sweeping turns then dive down low for their passes then pull up just in time to clear the trees at the ends of the fields. I always enjoyed the show, but even at the time I wondered what those chemicals were doing to the people who lived next to those fields.

From Reuters:
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In a new study from California, children with an autism spectrum disorder were more likely to have mothers who lived close to fields treated with certain pesticides during pregnancy.

Proximity to agricultural pesticides in pregnancy was also linked to other types of developmental delay among children.

“Ours is the third study to specifically link autism spectrum disorders to pesticide exposure, whereas more papers have demonstrated links with developmental delay,” said lead author Janie F. Shelton, from the University of California, Davis.

There needs to be more research before scientists can say that pesticides cause autism, she told Reuters Health in an email. But pesticides all affect signaling between cells in the nervous system, she added, so a direct link is plausible.

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