Aerial Pesticides Linked to Developmental Delay and Autism Spectrum Disorder Interview with:

Steven Daniel Hicks, M.D., Ph.D. Penn State Hershey Medical Group Hope Drive, Pediatrics Hershey, PA 17033

Dr. Steven Hicks

Steven Daniel Hicks, M.D., Ph.D.
Penn State Hershey Medical Group Hope Drive, Pediatrics
Hershey, PA 17033 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Hicks:  This research was inspired by results of the CHARGE study (examining environmental influences on autism) which showed that specific pesticides (including pyrethroids) increased the risk of autism and developmental delay, particularly when mothers were exposed in the 3rdtrimester.

We recognized that the department of health sprayed pyrethroids from airplanes in a specific area near our regional medical center every summer to combat mosquito borne illnesses. We asked whether children from those areas had increased rates of autism and developmental delay. We found that they were about 25% more likely to be diagnosed with a developmental disorder at our medical center than children from control regions without aerial spraying of pyrethroids. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Hicks:  Readers should take away that there is growing evidence that a link between pesticides and developmental delay may exist. This work adds that the way in which pesticides are distributed may contribute to the risk of developmental delay. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Hicks:  Future studies need to:

1) Show that these results are reproducible in other regions where similar pesticide application methods are used and

2) Show that children in these regions have higher levels of pyrethroid metabolites in their blood or urine. In the meantime it would be useful to know if residents in these areas are receiving warnings from the department of health about these spraying events and following recommendations to stay indoors and cover gardens or children’s play equipment. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Hicks:  I would like to add that these results are not sufficient to cause communities to abandon mosquito-prevention programs, particularly with the emerging threat of Zika Virus and its potential to impact neurodevelopment. Thank you for your contribution to the community


April 2016 Pediatric Academic Societies abstract:

Aerial Pesticide Exposure Increases the Risk of Developmental Delay and Autism Spectrum Disorder
Steven D. Hicks, Vignesh Doraiswamy, Katherine Fry, Eric Wohlford. Pediatrics, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, PA; Pediatrics, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY.
Saturday, April 30, 2016

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on May 1, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD