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Aerial Spraying of Pesticides Against Mosquitoes Linked to Increased Risk of Autism

May 02, 2016 01:59 PM EDT
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Some U.S. states use airplanes to spray pesticides from the air in hopes of decreasing the prevalence of mosquitoes in different areas, but a new study shows that the pesticide being sprayed is not only dangerous for the mosquitoes but also for the children.

According to a new research to be presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies 2016, aerial spraying of Pyrethroid pesticides may increase the risk of autism spectrum disorder and developmental delays among children.

"Our findings show that the way pesticides are distributed may change that risk. Preventing mosquito-borne encephalitis is an important task for public health departments," said lead investigator Steven Hicks, MD PhD, in a statement.

Pyrethroid pesticides are used to kill mosquitoes carrying the eastern equine encephalitis virus, which can cause swelling of the brain and spinal cord. Every summer, health officials use airplanes to spray this kind of pesticides from the air into the swampy regions of central New York.

The study reveals that children living in the area where the spraying took place are 25 percent most likely to be diagnosed with autism and experience developmental delays compared to the children living in the area that uses other methods of controlling the prevalence of mosquitoes.

"Our findings show that the way pesticides are distributed may change that risk. Preventing mosquito-borne encephalitis is an important task for public health departments," Hicks continued. "Communities that have pesticide programs to help control the mosquito population might consider ways to reduce child pesticide exposure, including alternative application methods."

Alternative application methods of anti-mosquito pesticides that are being used in other areas include manually spreading granules or using hoses or controlled droplet applicators.

According to the report from Tech Times, autism spectrum disorder is a condition that affects the ability of the child to socialize and communicate with others. At present, about 68 American youths are affected by the condition.

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