Pregnancy and Pesticides

In last week’s blog about the West Nile virus we touched upon concerns for pregnant mothers.

So in this week’s blog we’ll delve deeper into the issue and discuss the risks that pregnant mothers or mothers who have have newly born babies, run when they are exposed to pesticides.

Pesticides and Autism - The Evidence Mounts
In a 2014 study, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that rates of child autism had risen by 30% in only two years, with the prevalence of autism being higher in white children then in black or Hispanic children.

But the link between pesticides (or specifically, the chemicals that are used in most off-the-shelf pesticides, pyrethrin and pyrethroids) and autism has been around for a while. Pesticides have sporadically been courted in the media as a possible cause for concern. And while autism is considered the major risk, there are other developmental delay disorders that could be problematic too.

Recently the evidence of a causal link between pyrethrin and autism has been mounting.

Also in 2014, the world renowned University of California-Davis published a study that said that women who live close to fields treated by chemical pesticides are “having a two-thirds increased risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder.”

Along with organophosphates and carbamates, the role of pyrethroids were pointed out as playing a key part in this connection.

Surely, when a highly-regarded academic institute like the UC Davis publishes a study of such definite character, families who are considering bringing up children should take a second to think about whether such risks are worth running. If there was little alternative to these chemical pesticides then the ability to choose wouldn’t be so easy. But when there are plenty of fully organic alternatives to choose from, why take the risk at all?

Fetal Death and Congenital Abnormalities
There are other causes for worry. The links between fetal death and congenital abnormalities (also known as birth defects) have also been questioned.

In 2001 one of the country’s premier medical publications, the American Journal of Epidemiology, published a paper that brought into question the role of pesticides and fetal death.

They concluded that:

"The results of this study show an increased association between fetal death due to congenital abnormalities and several classes of pesticides when exposure occurs during the 3rd-8th weeks of pregnancy.”

(Epidemiology, March 2001, vol.12, no.2, p.148 (9))

Another chemical frequently used in commercial pesticides is Malathion. This is a chemical with a sketchy history of claims and counterclaims against its safety in use for humans.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) said that though they do not know if children are more susceptible to these chemicals than adults, in studies on animals, young animals did prove to be far more sensitive than adults.

It goes on to state:

“Children who have accidentally swallowed high amounts of Malathion or who had skin contact with high amounts of Malathion experienced difficulty breathing, chest tightness, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, watery eyes, salivation, sweating, headaches, dizziness, and loss of consciousness, and some died.”

(Point 1.6)

Some died. This is not a chemical that should be around homes; regardless of how much is sprayed.

The problem is extended by the length of time the chemical sticks around for. Once sprayed, Malathion “stays in the environment from a few days to several months” said the ATSDR.

Considering the seriousness of threats that chemical pesticides pose, it is strange to think that governments and private firms are happy to continue using them.

For the protection of your family members - both those currently alive and those yet to be born - an organic alternative is surely the only option.

Organic pesticides protect against mosquitos and ticks, but don’t post the same threats that commercial pesticides do.

Date: 04-04-2017