High pesticide levels in pregnant mothers linked to autism in children, says study

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Print this page Email A Friend!


NEW research has found a link between high levels of pesticides during pregnancy and an increased risk of autism in children.

Carried out by researchers at Columbia University along with the University of Turku and the National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland, the study looked at data gathered from the Finnish Prenatal Study of Autism, a national birth cohort study, to examine the levels of DDE (dichlorodiphenyl dichloroethylene) in pregnant women.

DDE is a breakdown product of the pesticide DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), which, though banned in many countries decades ago, can still be found in the food chain. This results in continuous exposure among some populations, and as the chemicals transfer across the placenta, children may also be at risk of prenatal exposure.

For the new study the researchers looked at 778 children with autism and 778 children without autism who acted as control subjects. They measured the levels of DDE and DDT in blood serum samples taken from the mothers during early pregnancy.

After taking into account the mother's age and other possible factors, the results showed that the chance of a child having autism was significantly increased if the mother had an elevated level of DDE, defined as the 75th per centile or greater.

In addition, the odds of children having autism with intellectual disability increased more than twofold when maternal DDE levels were above this threshold.

“We think of these chemicals in the past tense, relegated to a long-gone era of dangerous 20th Century toxins,” says lead author Alan S Brown. “Unfortunately, they are still present in the environment and are in our blood and tissues. In pregnant women, they are passed along to the developing foetus. Along with genetic and other environmental factors, our findings suggest that prenatal exposure to the DDT toxin may be a trigger for autism.”

The researchers also examined the levels of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), which are chemicals used in industrial application, but found no association between the chemicals and autism in children.

The authors concluded that their findings “provide the first biomarker-based evidence that maternal exposure to insecticides is associated with autism among offspring”. They noted that the study contributes to the understanding of autism and has implications for preventing the disorder. However, they added, the results do not prove causation, and further research is necessary.

The results were published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

— AFP

ADVERTISEMENT




POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT