The kind of pesticides in question are organophosphates, a group of pesticides commonly used in agriculture. The presence of these types of pesticides was tested on more than 1000 children (ages 8-15) and the results published in the May 2010 issue of Pediatrics. The findings were rather startling.
Of the children tested, those who had the highest level of pesticide by-product in their urine were the most likely to exhibit behavior consistent with ADHD. Even those children with low-level exposure who had only the barest trace of pesticide by-product in their urine were still twice as likely to exhibit ADHD symptoms as those with no pesticide exposure.
Organophosphates are commonly found on fruits and vegetables, and have been implicated in behavioral and cognitive problems in children before. In those studies, however, the test subjects lived in agricultural communities where pesticide exposure is obvious and frequent.
What makes this May 2010 study so significant is that it involved a broad cross-section of children across the United States. These are not necessarily children who live near pesticide-spraying farms. Because regulations prohibit most uses of pesticides on lawns, many of these are children whose only exposure to organophosphates is through the food they eat.
Organophosphates disrupt a brain chemical called acetylcholinesterase. This fifty-cent word is a neurotransmitter, and its improper function has been implicated in ADHD.
The leader of the study, Maryse Bouchard of Montreal, points out that this study does not prove that pesticides cause ADHD. It does, however, indicate an association between pesticide exposure and ADHD. It is possible that pesticides do cause ADHD, but more research is needed.
This study will probably act as a springboard for more research, such as following the children’s behavior and pesticide exposure long term. This study should raise red flags among health officials and concerned parents, and should be a strong incentive for more studies.
Blueberries, green beans, and celery were among the foods with the most organophosphate residue. Parents are encouraged to peel and wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, or switch to organic produce that is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides.
We hope that Pesticides ADHD – Pesticides and ADHD possibly linked has helped you to better understand the potential link between Pesticides and ADHD.