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Research links pesticides with ADHD in kids

May 17, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A study published Monday in the Journal of Pediatrics says that one type of pesticide commonly used on fruits and vegetables may be contributing to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in kids. Pesticides commonly found on frozen blueberries, strawberries, celery and other fruits and veggies kids love may be contributing to ADHD in American children.

"It's consistent with other studies that have looked at organophosphate pesticides and have found that exposure in early life can cause brain injury," said Dr. Philip Landrigan, chairman of the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

Researchers tested urine for pesticide levels from over 1,000 kids - ages 8 to 15. One-hundred-nineteen of the children had symptoms of ADHD. Those with the highest concentration of were more likely to have the disorder.

Scientists claim the chemicals can have harmful effects on development, including behavioral problems and the ability to think and communicate.

"We need to do a study that measures pesticide exposure very early in life ... then follow the children over five, six, seven years and see if the early exposure actually causes the disease," said Landrigan.

One national association that represents pesticide manufacturers agrees much more research is needed to determine if a link actually exists, saying the pesticide specified in the study "has been approved and registered by the U.S. EPA and when used according to the label, the EPA has determined it to be safe."

While the study couldn't prove that pesticides used in agriculture contribute to childhood learning problems, experts said the research is persuasive. Experts also warn any number of other factors could cause ADHD.

So should parents steer clear of certain produce?

"There is no need here to panic. What we're talking about here is giving people info that will empower them to be educated consumers," Landrigan said.


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