Pesticides linked to ADHD in Children

Sara - posted on 05/18/2010 ( 14 moms have responded )




Research Links Pesticides With ADHD In Children

Updated: Sunday, 16 May 2010, 4:50 PM EDT

Published : Sunday, 16 May 2010, 4:50 PM EDT

CHICAGO (AP) - CHICAGO (AP) — A new analysis of U.S. health data links children's attention-deficit disorder with exposure to common pesticides used on fruits and vegetables.

While the study couldn't prove that pesticides used in agriculture contribute to childhood learning problems, experts said the research is persuasive.

"I would take it quite seriously," said Virginia Rauh of Columbia University, who has studied prenatal exposure to pesticides and wasn't involved in the new study.

More research will be needed to confirm the tie, she said.

Children may be especially prone to the health risks of pesticides because they're still growing and they may consume more pesticide residue than adults relative to their body weight.

In the body, pesticides break down into compounds that can be measured in urine. Almost universally, the study found detectable levels: The compounds turned up in the urine of 94 percent of the children.

The kids with higher levels had increased chances of having ADHD, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, a common problem that causes students to have trouble in school. The findings were published Monday in Pediatrics.

The children may have eaten food treated with pesticides, breathed it in the air or swallowed it in their drinking water. The study didn't determine how they were exposed. Experts said it's likely children who don't live near farms are exposed through what they eat.

"Exposure is practically ubiquitous. We're all exposed," said lead author Maryse Bouchard of the University of Montreal.

She said people can limit their exposure by eating organic produce. Frozen blueberries, strawberries and celery had more pesticide residue than other foods in one government report.

A 2008 Emory University study found that in children who switched to organically grown fruits and vegetables, urine levels of pesticide compounds dropped to undetectable or close to undetectable levels.

Because of known dangers of pesticides in humans, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency limits how much residue can stay on food. But the new study shows it's possible even tiny, allowable amounts of pesticide may affect brain chemistry, Rauh said.

The exact causes behind the children's reported ADHD though are unclear. Any number of factors could have caused the symptoms and the link with pesticides could be by chance.

The new findings are based on one-time urine samples in 1,139 children and interviews with their parents to determine which children had ADHD. The children, ages 8 to 15, took part in a government health survey in 2000-2004.

As reported by their parents, about 150 children in the study either showed the severe inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity characteristic of ADHD, or were taking drugs to treat it.

The study dealt with one common type of pesticide called organophosphates. Levels of six pesticide compounds were measured. For the most frequent compound detected, 20 percent of the children with above-average levels had ADHD. In children with no detectable amount in their urine, 10 percent had ADHD.

"This is a well conducted study," said Dr. Lynn Goldman of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a former EPA administrator.

Relying on one urine sample for each child, instead of multiple samples over time, wasn't ideal, Goldman said.

The study provides more evidence that the government should encourage farmers to switch to organic methods, said Margaret Reeves, senior scientist with the Pesticide Action Network, an advocacy group that's been working to end the use of many pesticides.

"It's unpardonable to allow this exposure to continue," Reeves said.


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Dana - posted on 05/19/2010




Shocking?? You mean eating foods chock full of chemicals is bad for you?

Regardless of if the the study has flaws or if there are other contributing factors, common sense should tell you it's bad for you.

Amie - posted on 05/18/2010




No I know. Everyone reads things differently too. Contributing to me is not a trigger, it's a cause. I'm sure it's the same way for many people. It's why I said they need to make it clearer if that's the path they're taking with this study.

Charlie - posted on 05/18/2010




perhaps it acts as a trigger for those more susceptible ?

But the study doesn't surprise me .

[deleted account]

Maybe I worded it wrong then. Perhaps genetics + pesticides = ADHD. In that case it would be a contributing factor. But it still essentially means the same thing. A "trigger" is basically a contributing factor if you look at it that way. Why couldn't genetics be considered a "contributing factor"?

I don't know. I was just offering one possible solution as to why siblings don't always have the same disorders when they are fed the same things. Not an expert, I was just speculating. :)

Amie - posted on 05/18/2010




I can understand that. I could believe there are things that trigger it if that was how this was worded. It's not though.

[deleted account]

Amie, perhaps part of it is just in your genetics. Like some siblings have brown eyes and others have blue. But with something like ADHD, perhaps the chemicals could "trigger" it if you have the specific genetics.

It works like that in some mental illnesses. A person can be pre-disposed to a certain mental illness and it not show itself unless the person uses drugs. Other people can use all kinds of drugs and mental illness will not occur because it simply is not in their makeup. I wonder if ADHD and the food we eat work the same way.

And I agree with the majority of you here. How can adding chemicals to our food possibly be good? Even if there really is not link to ADHD, there are so many other problems that chemicals can cause.

Amie - posted on 05/18/2010




How do they explain families of with multiple children and only one or two of the kids have ADD/ADHD?

My sister and I are the only ones with ADHD out of the 4 of us. Of my kids our oldest is the only one we've had concerns about. Jonathan's had hearing issues but is showing no signs of ADD or ADHD. He's at the age they start watching for it too and not so much as one red flag. (youngest two obviously are not old enough to know conclusively one way or the other yet but time will tell)

How does that factor into this study? My kids all eat the same food barring their favorites being different. I ate the same food my siblings ate/eat.

LaCi - posted on 05/18/2010




We avoid additives and pesticides simply because they aren't food. We especially avoid pesticides, why would I want poisoned food? It's ridiculous. We have more and more and more health problems over the period of time that we've been screwing with our food more and more, and we ignore the correlation? I don't blame pesticides alone, I blame all the screwing with food. GMOs, artificial anything, all chemical additives, and pesticides. Corporations are taking advantage of people who don't have time or money to spend on natural organic ingredients to make their foods from scratch. We consume foods that have been deamed unfit for human consumption in other countries. We can't speak out about our food because we'll end up in limitless lawsuits against corporate lawyers. Our farmers are forced to grow crops they feel are unsafe. It's horrible and few people seem to care. The boyfriend wants to become a food activist. After spending the time and money on the organic, raw ingredients, where the hell is the time for that? I'll do it, but it shouldn't be something anyone should have to do. No one should have to spend their life speaking out against what should be common sense, don't poison the freakin' population.

Sorry if that was poorly constructed, no time. ;)

ME - posted on 05/18/2010




That's true to an extent Jodi, and more studies need to be done, but, better safe than sorry in my opinion...I mean, I wouldn't buy my children even one toy with lead paint in it...why serve them food full of chemicals?

Jodi - posted on 05/18/2010




Interesting, but I don't think the study could in any way be conclusive. There are so many other things that could correlate with the same findings. For instance, parents who serve up less organic foods may also be more inclined to be serving foods high in sugar, sodium, preservatives, additives, and so on (many of which break down in the body and wouldn't be measurable in the urine). I honestly think at this point, I'd take this study with a grain of salt unless they could control all of the other possible factors which could link to ADHD in those same children :)

LaCi - posted on 05/18/2010




Eating "organic" won't do much good much longer in the US. WE're currently trying to change the laws to make organic labels more lenient. Currently, I eat organic, mostly. Pretty soon I'll be orthorexic.

Caitlin - posted on 05/18/2010




I'd love to eat organic, but it's just soooo expensive, and the food doesn't last as long.. I try as much as I can to buy organic foods.

Jenny - posted on 05/18/2010




Well I'm glad pesticides are banned in my area, although I'm not sure if that applies commercially. We have to stop being surprised that volatile chemicals can affect our bodies. We have so much new science coming out and we need to take our time with it. Better yet, get back to simple living. Have you guys seen Food Inc.? I truly believe it is our food that is destroying us, it affects us on so many levels.

ME - posted on 05/18/2010




I'm glad that you posted this...I heard this yesterday, and wondered what everyone would think of this. I have to admit, I am VERY relieved that I have served organically grown foods to my son since he was born. I'm sure he's still been exposed, but not at the level he could have been!

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