Pesticides and ADHD In Children

05.19.10 Study finds common chemical in some foods raises a child's risk of attention-deficit problems.


The case to buy organic just got stronger this week: A new study is linking children's attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with exposure to common pesticides used on fruits and vegetables, Reuters reports.

In the ADHD study, published this week in the journal Pediatrics, researchers from the University of Montreal and Harvard University studied more than 1,110 children ages 8 to 15 and their levels of diakyl phosphate, which is the residue of a pesticide called organophosphate. One hundred and nineteen were diagnosed with ADHD, researchers said in the study. Of the children with ADHD, 94 percent of them had high levels of diakyl phosphates.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the largest source of pesticide exposure for children is food since the EPA eliminated most residential uses of the chemicals. This latest pesticide warning was the second in a week about the exposure to kids, the Chicago Tribune reports: A presidential panel on cancer issued its report and tips, advising consumers to avoid fruits and vegetables grown with pesticides.

ADHD is a common problem that causes students to have trouble in school because of inattentiveness, hyperactivity and difficulty controlling their behavior, according to the National Institutes of Health. Too much TV time and video games often get the blame for causing ADHD, but recent research suggests that genetics and chemical influences are more likely to contribute to the rise in attention problems among school-age kids.

Experts quoted by Reuters urge parents to avoid using bug sprays at home and purchase organic produce when possible. They also recommend washing all fruits and vegetables under cold tap water and scrubbing firm-skinned produce with a brush, Reuters reports.

Now that you're eating for two, you may feel more compelled to buy the safest foods possible. But what do food labels really mean? Our experts help you read between the lines of the lingo on food packaging, plus how to make the right choices for you and your baby.

There's no better time than pregnancy to think about creating a healthier environment—inside and out—for your baby and yourself. Check out our Going Green section and bookmark it as your one-stop resource for making your pregnancy greener and more eco-conscious. Plus, a simple list of the most vs. least contaminated fruits and vegetables.

Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.