Two studies link pesticide exposure and foreign-born mothers to autism. One JAMA published Swedish study shows that folic acid can help to address this problem. But then there’s a cancer issue. Therefore, according to the best available evidence and strong science, natural folates from green vegetables are best to address neural tube defects, autism and cancer.

Autism spectrum disorders triggers developmental disabilities that can cause social, communication and behavioral difficulties. About 1 in 68 U.S. children have an autism spectrum disorder, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A Ritz study found that the risk of autism was 76 percent higher for children of foreign-born black mothers. Mothers born in Vietnam, the Philippines, Central and South America also were at higher risk of having a baby with autism. (Source 2)
Another study showed that pregnant women who live within a mile of spaces where commercial pesticides are applied appear have an increased risk of having a child with autism. (Source 1)
The risk that a child would develop autism appeared to be highest for women who lived near farms, golf courses and other public spaces that were treated with pesticides during the last three months of their pregnancies.
Using chemical pesticides in one’s backyard or in the house (i.e. like against cockroaches) is also a factor.
“Many of these compounds work on neurons. When they work on the insect, they’re dealing with the nervous system of the insect and basically incapacitating it,” said study author Irva Hertz-Picciotto, an environmental epidemiologist at the MIND Institute at University of California, Davis.
In adults, the brain is protected from many chemical exposures thanks to special filters that prevent many substances from crossing from the blood into the brain.
Hertz-Picciotto says that in young children, this blood-brain barrier isn’t fully formed, which may allow pesticides to reach vulnerable nerve cells just as they are making vital connections to each other.
And a recent Swedism study published by JAMA proved that folic acid can help protect the foetus from autism related causes. (Source 3)
But there are risks from the point of view of carcinogenesis. Other studies show that folic acid supplementation can also spur cancer growth. (Source 4).
Folates are abundant in plant-based foods and sufficient. (Source 5).
Cancer risks have also been related to the development of autism (Source 6).
The evidence shows that living in a pesticide-free clean environment with a predominantly organic plant-based diet is the best preventive and guarantee for birthing healthy children without neural tubal defects, autism and, among other diseases, cancer.
Source 1: Pesticides and Autism
Source 2: Autism and foreign-born mothers
Source 3: Folates and reduced autism risks during pregnancy: a swedish study.
Source 4: Folic acid can also spur cancer growth.
Source 5: Natural Folates are therefore better. They are abundant in plant-based foods.
Source 6: Autism and cancer risks related.
Autism Res. 2011 Aug;4(4):302-10. doi: 10.1002/aur.208.
Autism and cancer risk.
Crespi B.
A literature review was conducted on the genetic and developmental bases of autism in relation to genes and pathways associated with cancer risk. Convergent lines of evidence from four types of analysis: (1) recent theoretical studies on the causes of autism, (2) epidemiological studies, (3) genetic analyses linking autism with mutations in tumor suppressor genes and other cancer-associated genes and pathways, and (4) contrasts with schizophrenia, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease indicate that autism may involve altered cancer risk. This evidence should motivate further epidemiological studies, and it provides useful insights into the nature of the genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors underlying the etiologies of autism, other neurological conditions, and carcinogenesis.
Nutr Rev. 2007 Nov;65(11):504-11.
Folic acid fortification and supplementation–good for some but not so good for others.
Kim YI.
Evidence has established the protective effect of folic acid (FA) fortification and periconceptional supplementation on neural tube defects (NTDs). Folic acid fortification and periconceptional supplementation of women may reduce the risk of certain childhood cancers in their offspring. However, recent human studies have suggested that FA supplementation and fortification may promote the progression of already existing, undiagnosed, preneoplastic and neoplastic lesions, thereby corroborating earlier observations from animal and in vitro studies. Following the success of mandatory FA fortification on the reduction of NTD rates in the United States and Canada, several countries are currently considering whether or not, and at what dose, to institute FA fortification. Future debates and decisions regarding FA fortification should take into consideration all potential adverse effects and dose-responses of such a measure because it may be associated with very serious consequences for many generations. In addition to careful monitoring of adverse effects, preclinical and population-based studied are warranted in order to determine the efficacy, safety, and potential deleterious effects of FA fortification and supplementation on cancer risk and other health outcomes.
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