Mother’s Pesticide Exposure Linked to Autism in her Children

by Melissa Breyer, Treehugger

A new study provides the first biomarker-based evidence that maternal exposure to insecticides is associated with autism among their offspring.

One of the many problems with unleashing vast amounts of synthetic chemicals into the environment is that if they turn out to pose a threat, they can be banned, but they may persist in the environment for many many years to come. Such is the case with the infamous DDT.

The miracle pesticide was banned in the United States in 1972 – and largely credited with starting the modern environmental movement – and then banned worldwide for agricultural use. (It is still used in some countries for vector control.)

Alas, DDT is a persistent organic pollutant that loves to linger in the environment, finding its way into food chains, and into us as well. The breakdown product of DDT is DDE; the CDC says that most of the population has detectable levels of DDE.

And now, a new study finds an association with elevated levels of DDE in pregnant mothers with an increased risk of autism among their children.

The objective of the study was to test whether elevated maternal levels of persistent organic pollutants – specifically DDT and PCBs – were associated with autism in their offspring.

The researchers started with mother-child cases from a national birth cohort study, the Finnish Prenatal Study of Autism, which includes a million women in Finland who gave birth between 1987 and 2005. They looked at DDE levels in maternal serum samples drawn from more than 750 children with autism and matched them with 750 control subjects.

While they found no link between the PCBs, the DDT by-products told a different story. Mothers with elevated concentrations of DDE (defined as the 75th percentile or greater) were 32 percent more likely than women with lower levels to give birth to children who developed autism.

“In addition, the odds of children having autism with intellectual disability were increased more than twofold with maternal DDE levels above this threshold,” notes a statement from the American Psychiatric Association. “While these results indicate an association, they do not prove causation, although the findings persisted after controlling for confounding factors.”

The authors say that their findings “provide the first biomarker-based evidence that maternal exposure to insecticides is associated with autism among offspring.”

Even so, DDE is likely just “one piece of a puzzle,” said study lead researcher Dr. Alan Brown, a professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at NYC’s Columbia University Medical Center. “Very likely, you need other predisposing factors.”

Brown urges women who are pregnant or planning on it to consume organic produce, as well as wash fruits and vegetables to rinse off toxic residues, but “I wouldn’t say it’s cause for alarm,” he told Live Science. “We showed that overall in autism, there was a modest increase in risk, but the vast majority of offspring who are exposed to the high levels still won’t get autism.”

I appreciate that that the authors don’t want to frighten people, but still, those findings are clearly enough cause for concern to think more carefully about what we’re putting into the environment.

The paper, “Association of Maternal Insecticide Levels With Autism in Offspring From a National Birth Cohort,” was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Image via Thinkstock

34 comments

Marie W
Marie W2 months ago

Thanks for sharing

SEND
Jennifer S
Past Member 3 months ago

I have used spell casting to get my ex husband back to me and also get pregnant with twins through the help of a great and trusted spell caster. When I came online last year, I met a testimony about Priest ODUNGA who has been helping people and I decided to contact him. We spoke on email at odungaspelltemple@gmail.com and he said he would also help me get Fredrick back after 3 years of no contact. When your spouse leaves you, you feel your whole world start crumbling down. There is nothing that seem right anymore. When I met Priest Odunga, he is the best spell caster I must say. My husband called me after 24 hours and when I received herbal medicine for fertility, I became fertile. I and my husband reconnected, had sex and I became pregnant. I am happy today to be the mother of twins girls and this is ALL THANKS TO PRIEST ODUNGA. If you need help, you are saved with this spell caster, contact his email at odungaspelltemple@gmail.com and you too will give a testimony too to help others

SEND
Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson8 months ago

Thank you.

SEND
Ruth S
Ruth S8 months ago

Thanks,

SEND
Ann B
Ann B8 months ago

DDT almost wiped out the eagles NOW we have Monsanto and ROUND UP...see what we get!!!!!

SEND
Lisa M
Lisa M8 months ago

Thanks.

SEND
Lisa M
Lisa M8 months ago

Thanks.

SEND
Leo C
Leo C8 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

SEND
Catrin S

Thanks

SEND
Amanda M
Amanda McConnell8 months ago

Thanks for sharing

SEND