Autism and Pesticides….no surprise

by Dr. Alan Kadish

Recently the issues of autism and pesticides was studied in the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives. This published study indicated that there was indeed a correlation between the exposure of those who are both pregnant and months prior to pregnancy having up to a 60% increased risk of having a child with ASD or PPD.

I welcome this direct and obviously disturbing reality  check. It’s no surprise that the use of neurotoxic substances even when only in the background can cause neurological misdirection during fetal development.  I wonder if this call to action will actually have the impact that gets folks pre-planning for their pregnancy.

I am in the final stages of correlation and publishing an e-book on the subject of maximizing one’s potential for a healthy birth outcome. Our readers will be updated. Please feel free to send us a note asking to be part of our updated newsletters

The authors used a fairly representative number and were able to correlate the information based on the strict registration used in California, one of the only states with laws that would allow for following pesticide use.

The main take away message from this study is two fold. Of note is the pre-conception as well as 3rd trimester findings for ASD. Unfortunately the use of the pyrethroids, a family of insecticide chemicals is far more common than one would think, including inside your own home.

Self “poisoning”, per my definition is the self induced use of toxic material within your own environment.  The use of the pyrethroids can be perceived as deceptively “safe” as they are sold everywhere, from Home Depot® to your veterinarian supplies, in your garden and lawn stores and the list goes on.

And it’s legal……with one caveat. For some of the member of these neurotoxic products you do need a license. But….If the product is in contact with your body, in any form your at risk….period.

You will find mosquito , ant and flea repellents, lawn care products of all sorts, golf course treatments and roach killers to name a few of the classes of over the counter, in home and around you use of these products. Remember  they will potentially cause you and  your children major permanent health issues. Want a really scary listing ? Go to the:  California Department of Pesticide Regulation website and look up your questionable products.

Carbamates another family of chemical insecticides, when applied during pregnancy, were associated with developmental delays. These products tend to be more industrially applied. For a listing with the common names see: Carbamate Insecticides  on the CDPR site.

And then we have the organophosphate insecticides. Again a distinct class of chemical used pervasively. Organophosphates applied over the course of pregnancy were associated with an elevated risk of If you want to search for a product the California DPR has a great database with free access.   autism spectrum disorder, particularly for chlorpyrifos applications in the second trimester.   The death of Rubber Ducky and

Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Prenatal Residential Proximity to Agricultural Pesticides: The CHARGE Study

Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1307044

Janie F. Shelton, Estella M. Geraghty, Daniel J. Tancredi, Lora D. Delwiche, Rebecca J. Schmidt, Beate Ritz, Robin L. Hansen, and Irva Hertz-Picciotto 

Received: 4 May 2013

Accepted: 3 June 2014 Advance Publication: 23 June 2014

Abstract

Background: Gestational exposure to several common agricultural pesticides can induce developmental neurotoxicity in humans, and has been associated with developmental delay and autism.

Objectives: To evaluate whether residential proximity to agricultural pesticides during pregnancy is associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or developmental delay (DD) in the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and Environment (CHARGE) Study.

Methods: The CHARGE study is a population-based case-control study of ASD, developmental delay (DD), and typical development. For 970 participants, commercial pesticide application data from the California Pesticide Use Report (1997-2008) were linked to the addresses during pregnancy. Pounds of active ingredient applied for organophophates, organochlorines, pyrethroids, and carbamates were aggregated within 1.25km, 1.5km, and 1.75km buffer distances from the home. Multinomial logistic regression was used to estimate the odds ratio (OR) of exposure comparing confirmed cases of ASD (n = 486) or DD (n = 168) with typically developing referents (n = 316).

Results: Approximately one-third of CHARGE Study mothers lived, during pregnancy, within 1.5 km (just under one mile) of an agricultural pesticide application. Proximity to organophosphates at some point during gestation was associated with a 60% increased risk for ASD, higher for 3rd trimester exposures

[OR = 2.0, 95% confidence interval (CI) = (1.1, 3.6)], and 2nd trimester chlorpyrifos applications: OR = 3.3 [95% CI = (1.5, 7.4)]. Children of mothers residing near pyrethroid insecticide applications just prior to conception or during 3rd trimester were at greater risk for both ASD and DD, with OR’s ranging from 1.7 to 2.3. Risk for DD was increased in those near carbamate applications, but no specific vulnerable period was identified.

“This study validates the results of earlier research that has reported associations between having a child with autism and prenatal exposure to agricultural chemicals in California,” said lead study author Janie F. Shelton, a UC Davis graduate student who now consults with the United Nations. “While we still must investigate whether certain sub-groups are more vulnerable to exposures to these compounds than others, the message is very clear: Women who are pregnant should take special care to avoid contact with agricultural chemicals whenever possible.”

“This study validates the results of earlier research that has reported associations between having a child with autism and prenatal exposure to agricultural chemicals in California,” said lead study author Janie F. Shelton. “While we still must investigate whether certain sub-groups are more vulnerable to exposures to these compounds than others, the message is very clear: Women who are pregnant should take special care to avoid contact with agricultural chemicals whenever possible.”

“We mapped where our study participants’ lived during pregnancy and around the time of birth. In California, pesticide applicators must report what they’re applying, where they’re applying it, dates when the applications were made and how much was applied,” Hertz-Picciotto said. “What we saw were several classes of pesticides more commonly applied near residences of mothers whose children developed autism or had delayed cognitive or other skills.”

“In that early developmental gestational period, the brain is developing synapses, the spaces between neurons, where electrical impulses are turned into neurotransmitting chemicals that leap from one neuron to another to pass messages along. The formation of these junctions is really important and may well be where these pesticides are operating and affecting neurotransmission,” Hertz-Picciotto said.

Conclusions: This study of ASD strengthens the evidence linking neurodevelopmental disorders with gestational pesticide exposures, and particularly, organophosphates and provides novel results of ASD and DD associations with, respectively, pyrethroids and carbamates.

Copyright Center of Health™ 6/2014  For permission to reprint this article, please contact the author.

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Dr. Kadish is an unusual physician often referred to as a "doctor detective". His expertise is the evaluation and treatment of complex disorders, typically after other physicians have been stumped, is renowned. He provides care for all family members and has additional training in autistic spectrum disorders and chronic complex diseases.