Study Links Pesticides and ADHD

Exposure to pesticides is associated with increased risk of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children, according to a team of scientists from the University of Montreal and Harvard University. Published in the journal Pediatrics, the study focused on 1,139 children from the general U.S. population and measured pesticide levels in their urine. The authors conclude that exposure to organophosphate pesticides, at levels common among U.S. children, may contribute to a diagnosis of ADHD.

In the past, exposure to organophosphates has been associated with negative effects on neurodevelopment, such as behavioral problems and lower cognitive function. However earlier studies have focused on populations with greater pesticide exposure relative to the general population. This study was conducted with 1139 children 8 to 15 years of age, representative of the general U.S. population. The findings showed that children with higher urinary levels of organophosphate metabolites were more likely to meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD.

According to the study, approximately 40 organophosphate pesticides are registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use in the United States. The EPA considers food, drinking water, and residential pesticide use major sources of exposure. Residential pesticide use is common, but the important source of exposure to pesticides for infants and children would be from the diet, says the National Academy of Sciences.

The U.S. Pesticide Residue Program Report for 2008 notes that measurable concentrations of the organophosphate malathion were found in 28 percent of frozen blueberry samples, 25 percent of strawberry samples, and 19 percent of celery samples. Children are thought to be at greatest risk from organophosphate toxicity because the developing brain is more susceptible to neurotoxicants and the dose of pesticides per body weight is likely to be larger for children. Children 6 to 11 years of age have the highest urinary concentrations of dialkyl phosphate (DAP) metabolites (markers of organophosphate exposure), compared with other age groups in the U.S. population. As well, children have fewer detoxifying enzymes, which contributes to their vulnerability.

Next: What to do

The best way to limit exposure to pesticides is to limit the intake of foods with high pesticides loads. What are the worst culprits for pesticide residue? The Shopper’s Guide developed by Environmental Working Group (EWG) is based on data from nearly 87,000 tests for pesticide residues in produce collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Here are the top 15 fruits/vegetables from the guide that contain the most pesticide (number one being the worst). It is advised, whenever possible, to purchase these items organically:

1. Celery
2. Peaches
3. Strawberries
4. Apples
5. Blueberries (Domestic)
6. Nectarines
7. Sweet Bell Peppers
8. Spinach
9. Kale / Collard Greens
10. Cherries
11. Potatoes
12. Grapes (Imported)
13. Lettuce
14. Blueberries (Imported)
15. Carrots

Organic on a Budget
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William C
William Cabout a year ago


W. C
W. Cabout a year ago

Thank you.

Elisa F.
Elisa F5 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

David Nuttle
Past Member 6 years ago

Recent research has discovered more and more harm resulting from the use of pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals in addition to the hormones, antibiotics and GM/ GMO inputs to our food supplies. Some of our water supplies contain a "cocktail" of the above along with a mix of prescription drugs as well as excess nutrients dumped in streams, rivers and lakes.. Most of our elected representatives could care less about these health risks since most of them are "hooked" on the "politcal payola" (bribes) they receive from biotech companies, Big Pharma, factory farms and other corrupt corporations seeking to sustain known hazards they have created in order to increase profits.

Russell R.
Russell R6 years ago

The real truth on why Congress can't get things done.

jayasri amma
jayasri amma7 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Aarif Ahmad
Aarif Ahmad8 years ago

thanks so much! Happy weekend to all :). Greetings from sweet Aaisha and Aarif!

Tammy Smith
T Zabel8 years ago

I am not surprised

Henrique Marsh
Past Member 8 years ago

residential pesticide use is widespread, but significant exposure to pesticides in infants and children should be off the diet, says the National Academy of Sciences.
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Aleksandra W.
Past Member 8 years ago

Very interesting article, thank you very much.