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Autism Spectrum Disorder and Prenatal or Early Life Exposure to Pesticides: A Short Review

  • miani;, alessandro
Publication Date
Oct 19, 2021
DOI: 10.3390/ijerph182010991
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Background: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnoses have rapidly increased globally. Both environmental and genetic factors appear to contribute to the development of ASD. Several studies have shown a potential association between prenatal or postnatal pesticide exposure and the risk of developing ASD. Methods: We reviewed the available literature concerning the relationship between early life exposure to pesticides used in agriculture, such as organochlorines, organophosphates and pyrethroids, and ASD onset in childhood. We searched on Medline and Scopus for cohort or case–control studies published in English from 1977 to 2020. Results: A total of seven articles were selected for the review. We found a remarkable association between the maternal exposure to pyrethroid, as well as the exposure to organophosphate during pregnancy or in the first years of childhood, and the risk of ASD onset. This association was found to be less evident with organochlorine pesticides. Pregnancy seems to be the time when pesticide exposure appears to have the greatest impact on the onset of ASD in children. Conclusions: Among the different environmental pollutants, pesticides should be considered as emerging risk factors for ASD. The potential association identified between the exposure to pesticides and ASD needs to be implemented and confirmed by further epidemiological studies based on individual assessment both in outdoor and indoor conditions, including multiple confounding factors, and using statistical models that take into account single and multiple pesticide residues.

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