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A new study indicates that pregnant women exposed to pesticides in their final trimester are more likely to give birth to children with autism.

A new study indicates that pregnant women exposed to pesticides in their final trimester are more likely to give birth to children with autism.

According to a new study, pregnant women who are exposed to areas rife with commercial pesticides may be at greater risk of giving birth to children with autism.

HealthDay News reports that the research, led by Irva Hertz-Picciotto at the MIND Institute of University of California, Davis, points to increased diagnoses of autism among children born from mothers who, during their final trimester, had lived within a mile of golf courses, farms and other public areas treated with pesticides.

Hertz-Picciotto, an environmental epidemiologist, noted that the adult brain is capable of filtering out chemical exposures before they reach the bloodstream — a blood-brain barrier that young children do not have yet. Consequently, if pregnant women are exposed to heavy levels of pesticides, these chemicals may be infiltrating their children's nerve cells in utero just as their brains are developing important neurological connections.

"Many of these compounds work on neurons," Hertz-Picciotto wrote in an official statement. "When they work on the insect, they're dealing with the nervous system of the insect and basically incapacitating it."

Of course, this is just one study and not indicative of a definitive link between pesticide exposure and autism. In fact, one Boston-based researcher was quick to point out that a lack of data collected from blood and urine samples at the time of these mothers' last trimester make it difficult, if not impossible, to directly associate pesticides with autism. 

Nevertheless, this is not the first case of a possible connection between autism and pesticide exposure. According to the source, children whose parents are farmers and are habitually exposed to low levels of pesticides during pregnancy and their first years of life typically exhibit a greater risk for neurodevelopmental issues — such as autism — than children born and raised in other environments.

Be sure to check with this blog for future developments on autism research and diets for children with autism.