Thought this was interesting: http://www.aolnews.com/health/article/study-links-common-pesticides-such-as-malathion-to-childhood-adhd/19479933
(May 17) -- Kids exposed to above-average levels of pesticides, particularly those found on widely consumed varieties of fruits and vegetables, appear more likely to suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to a new study.
Berries, whether fresh or frozen, along with celery and peaches are only a few of the fruits and vegetables containing significant levels of pesticides. Now a study published in this week's issue of Pediatrics indicates that residue from these chemical compounds can be found in the urine of most Americans and seem to be affecting the neural development of children.
The study builds on previous research that reached similar conclusions, but it's the most comprehensive analysis thus far of the suspected link between pesticides and ADHD, which afflicts an estimated 4.5 million American children. Rates of ADHD have increased consistently since the 1990s.
A team of researchers at the University of Montreal and Harvard evaluated 1,139 children, ages 8 to 15, for six key compounds that comprise 70 percent of all food-based pesticides. Of the study participants, 119 met the diagnostic criteria for ADHD, a condition characterized by academic struggles, impatience and difficulty focusing.
They found widespread connections between each pesticide and ADHD susceptibility. And ADHD rates actually doubled among kids with higher-than-average levels of a common compound called malathion.
Because the study group consisted of kids from average American cities and towns, rather than farms or heavy agricultural regions, it suggests a troubling link between relatively normal pesticide exposures and health problems.
Most childhood exposure to pesticides comes from diet, and a startling percentage of produce contains potentially harmful pesticides. A 2008 federal report concluded that 28 percent of frozen blueberries and 19 percent of celery contained "detectable concentrations" of malathion.
Pesticide manufacturers want scientists to do more research before making any conclusions.
"All crop protection products are extensively reviewed by regulatory agencies before approval for market use ... The class of crop protection compounds that is the subject of this 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," CropLife America, an association that represents pesticide companies, said in a statement.
A link between pesticides and ADHD would make sense. The agents short-circuit the neural pathways of insects by interfering with a group of brain chemicals. ADHD in humans has been attributed to problems with those same brain compounds.
But the study does have its limitations. In particular, the diets of participants weren't tracked, so the researchers can't definitively link consumption patterns with illness. And the conclusions were drawn from one urine sample, rather than several.
"This study only provides a snapshot of one point in time of the association between pesticides and ADHD," Philip Landrigan, chairman of the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, told ABC News. "The next step is we need to do a prospective study, 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."
For parents concerned about pesticide exposure, the research team suggests opting for organics whenever possible. Several studies have shown that organic produce contains lower levels of pesticides.
Thoroughly washing produce, and peeling it whenever possible, can also reduce exposure.