ADHD and Pesticide Exposure- A Possible Link

By Susan Littlefield

If you need a reason to consider "going organic" in the garden and at the supermarket, consider the findings of a study published recently in Pediatrics?, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Using data on more than 1000 children 8 to 15 years of age in the U.S., researchers found that children with higher levels of urinary metabolites of organophosphate pesticides were about twice as likely to meet the diagnostic criteria for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as those with very low concentrations of the metabolites.

Children are especially vulnerable to organophosphate toxicity because of the susceptibility of their developing brains and their low body weight relative to the amount of pesticide exposure. And how does this exposure come about? According to the EPA, food, drinking water and residential use are all important sources of exposure, but diet is the most important source for infants and children, according to the National Academy of Sciences. Consider that the U.S. Pesticide Data Program's 2008 Report found detectable concentrations of the organophosphate pesticide malathion in 28% of frozen blueberries sampled, 25% of strawberries and 19% of celery.

While noting that more research is needed to establish whether this association is causal, the researchers concluded that "Our findings support the hypothesis that current levels of organophosphate pesticide exposure might contribute to the childhood burden of ADHD."

To read the full text of this article, go to: Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Urinary Metabolites of Organophosphate Pesticides.

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