Many of the parents of autistic children, watching their own children struggle as the numbers of children diagnosed escalates, have long feared that some environmental toxin had caused the disorder. A study by California state scientists has confirmed that the fear is real.
In a small study of women who lived near farms where organophosphate insecticides were sprayed and became pregnant, an unusually high number bore autistic children. The smallness of the study, however, prevents the researchers from making any broad conclusions about risk, including a causal relationship between exposure in the womb and autism.
Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability, according to the Autism Society of America. Diagnoses have increased at or above 10% each year, and total cases have more than doubled since the 1990s.
The results shouldn't come as a great surprise. Pesticides are designed to work within the bodies of living things and cause death via a variety of routes -- including wreaking neurological havoc. The brains of developing babies have been shown again and again to be sensitive to minute fluctuations in nutrients and contaminants. They are among the most vulnerable organs at their most vulnerable state, and no one needs to be reminded of the importance of rearing children who can meet their full potential.
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