Children who are exposed to organophosphates may have an increased risk of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a study published in the journal, Pediatrics.
But what are organophosphates? According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 37 of the 900 different pesticides used in the United States belong to the class of organophosphates. These widely-used insect killers work by disrupting the brain and nervous system and are known to be toxic to humans.
Humans can be exposed to organophosphates by
The objective of the study was to examine the association between urinary concentrations of dialkyl phosphate metabolites of organophosphates and ADHD in children 8 to 15 years-old.
The study group included 1,139 children who were representative of the general U.S. population. One hundred nineteen of the children met the diagnostic criteria for ADHD. Those with higher urinary dialkyl phosphate concentrations, especially dimethyl alkylphosphate (DMAP) concentrations, were more likely to be diagnosed as having ADHD.
From the journal Pediatrics:
A 10-fold increase in DMAP concentration was associated with an odds ratio of 1.55 (95% confidence interval: 1.14–2.10), with adjustment for gender, age, race/ethnicity, poverty/income ratio, fasting duration, and urinary creatinine concentration. For the most-commonly detected DMAP metabolite, dimethyl thiophosphate, children with levels higher than the median of detectable concentrations had twice the odds of ADHD (adjusted odds ratio: 1.93 [95% confidence interval: 1.23–3.02]), compared with children with undetectable levels.
While further studies are needed to find out if the association is casual, the hypothesis is that organophosphate exposure, at levels common among US children, may contribute to ADHD prevalence.
Marc Weisskopf of Harvard School of Public Health worked on the study and said, “That’s a very strong association that, if true, is of very serious concern. These are widely used pesticides. A good washing of fruits and vegetables before one eats them would definitely help a lot.”
Good Morning America also recommends these steps:
Symptoms of ADHD include hyperactivity, impulsivity, difficulty staying on task and controlling behavior. The cause is not identified, but a combination of genetics and environmental factors is one avenue researchers have been pursuing.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the U.S.
For more information about ADHD visit the CDC.
Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to Santiago Nicolau
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