Pesticides Linked to ADHD

Research findings have just been released stating that exposure to pesticides may be a cause of ADHD in children. The study, published in Pediatrics, reported that out of the 1,139 children interviewed, 94 percent were found to have some levels of the common class of pesticide called organophosphate in their urine. Out of the children with an above-average level of this pesticide compound, 20 percent had ADHD.These findings support the hypothesis that organophosphate exposure,at levels common among US children, may contribute to ADHD prevalence.

Organophosphate is a pesticide commonly found on berries, celery and other produce. The study didn’t determine how the children were exposed to organophosphate. Some experts theorize that exposure was most likely through eating food treated with organophosphate, breathing it in the air or swallowing it in drinking water.

“Certainly parents and children shouldn’t swear off fruits and veggies”, said study lead author Maryse Bouchard, an adjunct researcher in the department of environmental and occupational health at the University of Montreal and at Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre. “However, I think it’s safe to say that we should as much as possible reduce our exposure to pesticides,” she said.

“That would mean going organic, buying at farmers’ markets and washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consuming them”, Bouchard stated.

If organic food is not accessible to you, The Environmental Working Group recommends the following fruits and vegetables that are relatively safe, even if not certified organic: onions, avocados, fresh local corn ears, pineapples, mangoes, asparagus, sweet peas, kiwis, cabbage, eggplant, papaya, watermelon, broccoli, sweet potatoes and tomatoes.

Another safety precaution is to always rinse produce thoroughly under running water before eating it.

It should also be noted that although results from this study are suggestive to a link between pesticide exposure and ADHD, it is not conclusive. Experts caution that further studies and research are needed to prove a scientific link from organophosphate pesticides to ADHD.

Sources:
Yahoo News, “Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children, May 17, 2010
The Week.com, “Do Pesticides on fruits and veggies cause ADHD?” May 18, 2010

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