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Another Reason to Eat Natural Organic Foods: Pesticides Linked (again) to ADHD

As if you really needed another reason to avoid consuming chemicals, a new study published recently in Environmental Health Perspectives shows that prenatal exposure to pesticides known as organophosphates may increase the chance that child will develop attention-related problems by the time they reach their fifth birthday. The connection is stronger for boys than it is for girls.

Before we go any further, however, I must point out the fact that the more than 300 children who took part in this Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS) study lived in agricultural Selinas Valley, CA. In other words, due to the simple fact of geography, these kids have a higher rate of exposure to the pesticides in question.
Ok, back to the findings of the study. According to, “Moms who had higher concentrations of metabolites or breakdown products of these pesticides in their urine during pregnancy were more likely to have children who showed signs of attention problems by age 5, the study showed.... ADHD is marked by inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Children with ADHD don't do as well in school or in social situations as their peers without ADHD.”

Study researcher Amy Marks, Master of Public Health (MPH), says that continued research is needed to more narrowly define the connection between pesticides and ADHD because “low-level exposure to pesticides and pesticide residues in food is quite common.” She also recommends that one step parents (and everyone, for that matter) can take is to carefully wash all produce to remove excess residue, but made it clear that they are not recommending that people stop eating fruits and veggies.

The study findings "provide another critical piece of evidence linking prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides with ADHD problems, demonstrating the persistence of adverse effects well into the preschool years," said Virginia A. Rauh, Doctor of Science (ScD), deputy director of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health in New York City.

There is a dissenting voice, however, that takes issue with the recommendations proposed by the researchers. Jeff Stier, the associate director for the American Council on Science and Health says the "warning to consumers that we wash produce to prevent pesticide exposure is completely beyond the scope of the study, which evaluated agricultural workers, not consumers."

“We should wash produce before eating it to lower risk of food-borne illness, but not to reduce the imagined risk that trace pesticides would otherwise cause ADHD," said Stier. "I'm concerned that studies like this will have the effect of causing parents to fear feeding healthy fruits and vegetables to their children."

What do you think? Do you really need a study like this to tell you to beware of pesticides and other chemicals used in modern food production? Is this going to change the amounts of fruits and veggies you eat? Do you already choose natural organic foods whenever possible? What other natural health organic options do you take advantage of?



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