Pesticides and Brain Development in Children

June 3, 2010 at 10:41 pm 1 comment

Pesticide Warning in Lettuce Field

Update:  In April 2013, new studies showed that heavy use of RoundUp could be linked to a series of diseases and health problems, including Parkinson’s, infertility and cancers.

Children, particularly infants and toddlers, are uniquely vulnerable to toxins.  While in utero or as infants, their internal systems are less capable than adults of processing pesticides and other toxins.  As toddlers, they spend time crawling or otherwise wrastling on the floor, putting pretty much anything that fits into their mouths, and playing in the dirt (indeed, that can be great for their immune systems!).  However, this constant exploration of the world requires that we, as caregivers, be particularly diligent about limiting their exposure to harmful chemicals.

Preliminary studies published in the Journal of Pediatrics in May, 2010 showed that higher than average exposure to common agricultural pesticides is correlated with a significant increase (55% to 100%) in the incidence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).   This research is consistent with earlier research on the pesticide chlorpyrifos (now banned from residential use but allowed in many agricultural settings) of  the negative, persistent effects of prenatal and toddler exposure among farming families.  According to The New Yorker,

For those children who were exposed to the pesticide in the womb, the effects have seemed to persist. The children with the greatest exposure were starting to fall off the developmental curve and displayed signs of attention-deficit problems by the time they were three. By seven, they showed significant deficits in working memory, which is strongly tied to problem-solving, I.Q., and reading comprehension…“The size of this deficit is educationally meaningful in the early preschool years,” Virginia Rauh, the leader of Columbia’s research, said.

Additionally, research is also suggesting that exposure to organophosphate pesticides (the most commonly used pesticide today) is associated with increased risk of childhood brain tumors, with far higher risk of brain cancer among children whose parents use these pesticides in their garden or home.

The good news is that switching from conventional to organic produce appears to result in a rapid decrease in detectable pesticides in children, in as little as 8 to 36 hours.

Recommendations for Parents:

* As much as possible, serve organic fruits and vegetables.  The most important produce to buy organic are those where the skin is edible, such as peaches, apples, bell peppers, grapes, blueberries, etc.  On the safer end of the conventional produce pesticide scale are onions, avacados, frozen corn, and pineapple.

* Use organic gardening products including fertilizers and natural pest control, and encourage friends and family whom your children visit to do so.

* Take off your shoes when you come home: you and your kids are less likely to track in dirt from playgrounds and public areas that use non-organic pest control and fertilizers.

* Further detox your home by using safe cleaning products and removing (or at minimum securing) toxins in the home.

Entry filed under: Toxins. Tags: , , , , , , .

Your Baby’s Brain Development Self-Control and the Link to Academic Success

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