The CHARGE study, recently published in Environmental Health Perspectives, showed that prenatal exposure to commonly used agricultural pesticides—particularly organophosphates—increases the risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other Developmental Disorders (DD) in newborn babies.

Related: Industrial Toxins Linked to More Brain Disorders in Children

To summarize the study’s findings, principal investigator, Irva Hertz-Picciotto, PhD, MPH, said: “What we saw were several classes of pesticides more commonly applied near residences of mothers whose children developed autism or had delayed cognitive or other skills.”

With this study in mind, we put together some tips to help you or a loved one avoid the risks of prenatal pesticide exposure. 6 Ways to Reduce the Risk of Autism During Pregnancy: 
 Use natural pest control in your garden and natural insect repellent when outdoors.
Adopt a ‘no shoes’ policy in your home. Tracked-in dirt may include pesticide residue that can be inhaled or ingested.
Trust your sense of smell. Sense of smell is often heightened during pregnancy. Take advantage of this biologic warning system —if it smells toxic, it probably is!
Educate yourself about the public areas you frequent most. Research the parks and beaches that use chemical versus natural pesticides. Check your city website for scheduled applications of pesticides and avoid these areas during the day of and several days after application.
If you are exposed to chemical pesticides, wash clothing immediately and separately to avoid any cross contamination.
Eat organic! The increased cost will result in long-term benefits for you and your unborn child’s health. Check the EWG website for updates to the “Clean 15” and “Dirty Dozen.” At a minimum, work to incorporate organic choices for the foods listed as having the highest pesticide residue — and ALWAYS wash your fruits and veggies before preparing and eating!

Be the voice of change in your community! Speak out about the dangers of pesticide use to your neighborhood association or even at your town or city council meetings. Education is the best for propelling community change.

Here’s to a happy and healthy pregnancy!