Pesticides on the brain
Organic vs. conventional? New findings link food pesticides to attention-deficit/hyperactivity in children.
The study, conducted by scientists at Harvard University and the University of Montreal, measured pesticide levels in the urine of 1,139 children across the U.S. Kids with higher levels of organophosphate pesticides were more likely to be diagnosed as having ADHD. For the most commonly-detected chemical, for instance, higher levels were associated with a two-fold increase in risk of ADHD.
Although residential bug spray may play a part, most research suggests that food is the principle source of pesticide exposure. In a 2008 report by the U.S. Pesticide Residue Program, detectable levels of organophosphates were found in 28 percent of frozen blueberry samples, 25 percent of strawberries, and 19 percent of celery.
Earlier alarms have sounded. Animals exposed to some organophosphate compounds have been shown to develop hyperactivity and brain deficits. These chemicals are also known to target brain and nerve cells. Buying conventional produce may cost more. But for parents of young kids, they may be worth the price.
SOURCE: Bouchard, MF et al, “Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Urinary Metabolites of Organophosphate Pesticides,” Pediatrics, June 2010, vol 125: pp 1270-1277