The Condition With No Name: Autism Prevalance in a Farmworker Community

Rebecca Álvarez, Marisol Ornelas

Abstract


Editors Caveat: The content of this article may be contrary to the general consensus of this journals readership however I would urge readers to refer to the editorial for my reasons for including this study.

Background: In the United States, autism is the intellectual disability with the fastest rate of increase. Among proffered explanations for this is the possibility of environmental exposure to neurotoxins, specifically, agricultural pesticides. While several recent major studies have established a connection between pesticide exposure and increased autism prevalence rates, this research has only examined populations that had slightly higher levels of exposure than the general U.S. population. Our objective was to examine the prevalence of autism in the children of highly exposed women; i.e. farmworkers.

Method: Autism prevalence was measured among a community of P'urhépecha farmworkers living in Thermal, California. Mothers self-identified as farmworkers during pregnancy and 34 children were evaluated for autism by means of the ASSQ.

Results: Severe and previously diagnosed autism was found in 2 of 34 subjects, and one more fell on the autism spectrum as measured by the ASSQ. Most farmworker parents of autistic children were unaware that aid from the state was available to them, despite the significantly higher rates of autism in the community.

Conclusions: Significantly higher rates of autism in the children of mothers who were exposed during pregnancy to pesticides suggest this is a particularly at-risk population. Little access to state resources exists for children of farmworkers when these children are diagnosed with autism. As the rate of autism in this community is more than twice the rate in the general population, those most in need are also the most underserved by public health resources.


Keywords


Autism; Farmworkers; Purepecha

References


Ehlers, S. Gillberg, G. & Wing, L. (1999) A screening questionnaire for Asperger syndrome and other high-functioning autism spectrum disorders in school age children. Journal of Autism Development Disorders 29, 129–141

Fountain, C. and Bearman, P. (2011) Risk as Social Context: Immigration Policy and Autism in California. Sociological Forum 26(2), 215-240.

Gnaulati, E. (2013) Back to Normal: Why Ordinary Childhood Behavior Is Mistaken for ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, and Autism Spectrum Disorder. Beacon Press, Boston, MA.

Grandjean P. Harari R. Barr D.B. & Debes F. (2006) Pesticide exposure and stunting as independent predictors of neurobehavioral deficits in Ecuadorian school children. Pediatrics 117(3), 546–556.

Hertz-Picciotto, I. Croen, L. Hansen, R. Jones, C. van de Water, J and Pessah. I. (2006) The CHARGE study: an epidemiologic investigation of genetic and environmental factors contributing to autism. Environmental Health Perspectives 114, 1119–1125.

Iland, E.D. Weiner, I. & Murawski, W.W. (2012) Obstacles Faced by Latina Mothers of Children with Autism. Californian Journal of Health Promotion 10, Special Issue: Health Disparities in Latino Communities: 25-36.

Kim, Y.S., Leventhal, B.L. Koh, Y.J. Fombonne, E. Laska, E. Lim, E.C & et. Al (2011) Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in a Total Population Sample. American Journal of Psychiatry 168 (9), 904-12.

Nelson, K.B. Grether, J.K. Croen, L.A. Dambrosia, J.M. Dickens, B.F. Jelliffe, L.L. & et al. (2001) Neuropeptides and neurotrophins in neonatal blood of children with autism or mental retardation. Annals of Neurology 49(5), 597–606.

Polleux, F. and Lauder, J.M. (2004) Toward a Developmental Neurobiology of Autism. Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews 10, 303–317.

Roberts, E.M., English, P.B. Grether, J.K. Windham, G.C. Somberg, L. & Wolff, C. (2007) Maternal Residence Near Agricultural Pesticide Applications and Autism Spectrum Disorders among Children in the California Central Valley. Environmental Health Perspectives 115, 1482-1489.

Shelton, J. F. Geraghty, E.M. Tancredi, D.J. Delwiche, L.D. Schmidt, R.J. Ritz, B. & et al. (2014) Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Prenatal Residential Proximity to Agricultural Pesticides: The CHARGE Study. Environmental Health Perspectives 122, 1103–1109

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014) Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders Among Children Aged 8 Years — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2010. MMWR Surveillance Summary 63(SS02), 1-21

Wakefield, A.J. Murch, S.H. Anthony, A. & et al. (1998) Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. Lancet 351 (9103), 637–41. (Retracted 2010.)


Full Text: HTML

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.