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Viewpoint: Do pesticides boost autism risk? New report says ‘possibly’ but correlations are ‘weak’ and ‘misleading’

| April 12, 2019

Recently a study titled “Prenatal and infant exposure to ambient pesticides and autism spectrum disorder in children: population based case-control study” was published in The British Medical Journal (BMJ)….

Findings suggest that an offspring’s risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) increases following prenatal exposure to ambient pesticides within 2000 m of their mother’s residence during pregnancy, compared with offspring of women from the same agricultural region without such exposure. Infant exposure could further increase risks for autism spectrum disorder with comorbid intellectual disability.

Eleven high-use pesticides were selected for examination, including glyphosate. They defined exposures as any versus none to a specific substance during three specific developmental periods.

The only thing this study shows are some very weak correlations, but they could very well just be false positives due to the various methodological flaws. It does not show any casual links between any of the pesticides in the study and autism. Further research needs to be done in order to determine whether these findings can a) be replicated and b) show a casual relationship. Unfortunately, the damage has already been done. The conclusion highly overstates the findings to make it seem as though there is a link between prenatal and infant exposure to ambient pesticides and autism. I’ve already seen people using it on social media to further push their anti-glyphosate, anti-Monsanto, anti-GMO agendas. Perhaps publications such as The BMJ should more closely review the content that they publish before unnecessarily adding more fuel to the anti-science fire.

Related article:  Former FDA GMO medical reviewer attacks IARC as “worst regulator ever"

Read full, original article: Pesticides and autism: How the study published in The BMJ has been severely misinterpreted

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Click the link above to read the full, original article.
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