A new study from researchers at University of Montreal and Harvard found a link experts call "persuasive" between attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and exposure to common pesticides.
The study examined more than 1,100 children, 150 of which were previously diagnosed as ADHD. The findings, published in Pediatrics, revealed that around 94% of children examined had detectable levels of organophosphate pesticides in their urine. Children with higher levels of residue had increased chances of ADHD.
Said Maryse F. Bouchard of the University of Montreal Department of Environmental and Occupational Health and the Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Center and lead author of the study: "Previous studies have shown that exposure to some organophosphate compounds cause hyperactivity and cognitive deficits in animals. Our study found that exposure to organophosphates in developing children might have effects on neural systems and could contribute to ADHD behaviors, such as inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity."
Previous studies have linked ADHD and attention deficit disorder to exposure to food additives, lead and phthalates. Which, or which combination, is the real culprit? Dr. Philip Landrigan, a 2010 Heart of Green Award winner, is trying to find the cause of autism, adhd, obesity and other chronic childhood illnesses through the ambitious Children's Health Study.
The most common route of organophosphate pesticide exposure for most children is through eating foods that have a high pesticide residue. Organic produce is grown without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers. A 2008 study found that when children switched to organic produce, detectable pesticide levels dropped to undetectable levels.
Important to note: Some produce has markedly higher levels of pesticide residue than others. The produce most likely contaminated with pesticides frozen blueberries, strawberries and celery topped the list.
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