Pesticide Exposure May Increase Autism Risk

Limited study posits link between disorder and environmental factor
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 30, 2007 6:05 PM CDT
Pesticide Exposure May Increase Autism Risk
A gloved hand takes precaution in the use of pesticide. Within the limited, preliminary study, autism rates were six times greater than those of mothers who did not live near sprayed fields.   (

Certain pesticides may be partially responsible for causing autism, a small study reveals. The autism rate among the children of 29 women living near California fields sprayed with organochlorine pesticides was six times higher than that in kids of women living farther away, the LA Times reports. But researchers warn the study's small scope prevents airtight conclusions.

"We want to emphasize that this is exploratory research," says the state's top public health official. The study is among the first to suggest a correlation between pesticides and the neurological disorder; a scientist with a group that promotes alternatives to pesticide use calls it "one of those things that make you sit up and pay attention." (More disease stories.)

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