By: Tiffany Baker, Program Clerk
In recent years, there have been many studies to understand what causes Autism and how it affects young lives. Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum disorder, is a serious disorder that is characterized by the impairment of the ability to communicate and interact normally with others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 68 American Children will have Autism. However, a recent government survey of parents suggests that 1 in 45 children have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. With the number of children affected with this condition rises each year, it is very important to find out why it has become so prevalent.
As science continues to find the root cause of Autism, there is strong supporting evidences that pesticide exposure could have a direct link to the cause of Autism. A Report done by researchers at the University of California-Davis MIND Institute, found that women who lived close to pesticide- treated fields during their second and third trimesters had increased rates of Autism among their children. The study also concluded that the closer an expectant mother was to a chemically treated field, the higher degree of risk she experienced. While we know that women who work in the fields are at a greater risk of having a child with Autism, it is still pretty high with women who do not work in the fields.
We use pesticides in our everyday lives which includes pesticide residue left on our foods, inhaling it from the air from agricultural or urban spraying, to household cleaners. With these various exposures, it is very difficult to estimate the direct dosage of pesticides. These pesticides are not limited to inhalation or digestion, and they can be absorbed through skin. As we continue to used pesticides in agriculture, we need to take added precautions to limit pesticide exposure to humans.
While there is no cure for Autism, there are medications for those who are already diagnosed and steps that can limited the amount of pesticides that a pregnant woman might come into contact with. However, AFOP’s Health and Safety’s National Farmworker Training Program has a training called Limiting Exposures Around Families. This Training teaches Farmworkers nationwide on how to limited pesticide exposure to women and Children. With this and continued research into the causes of Autism, we can make take a step towards prevention.