Three new studies draw a link between prebirth exposures to a class of pesticides widely used on crops and lower intelligence scores in kids.
The pesticide group is organophosphates, which kill insects by disrupting their brains and nervous systems. It was first developed in World War II in a more potent forms as a nerve poison.
The tests do not prove conclusively that there is an effect (you can assign some kids to be exposed to some pesticides and others not) but Brenda Eskenazi, co-author of one of the studies and director of the Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health at the University of California, Berkeley, says a body of evidence if starting to build.
“Two of the studies, conducted by researchers at Mt. Sinai Medical Center and Columbia University, examined kids in New York City, while Eskenazi’s study looked at 329 kids and their mothers in the Salinas Valley area of central California. All of the studies found links between exposure to the pesticides in pregnant mothers and lower IQ scores in their kids by age 7.”
“In the Salinas Valley study, researchers looked at signs of pesticide exposure in urine taken from the mothers during pregnancy and later from their children.”
“The researchers found that every 10-fold increase in organophosphates detected during a mother’s pregnancy corresponded to a 5.5-point drop in overall IQ scores in her children by age 7.”
“In fact, the 20 percent of the children whose mothers appeared to have been exposed to the least pesticides had about a 7-point higher IQ level, on average, than those in the 20 percent born to mothers with the highest exposure, the researchers reported.”
Eskenazi said that difference is equivalent to about six months of brain development in a typical child.
So how can parents lower their family’s exposure to pesticides if they are worried?
The article suggests reducing exposure during pregnancy by not using the pesticide in their homes. Also buy buying organics and if that is not possible using a brush to scrub the fruit or vegetables.
I always wash my fruit and vegetables even if they say pre-washed but I do not usually scrub anything. I guess I should start.
I would love to buy everything organic but it’s just too expensive. I always try to remember the top 12 foods that you are supposed to buy organic. (Some it doesn’t matter as much as others.) I need to print out a list and keep it in my wallet.
Here is a round-up of the Top 12 fruits and veggies you SHOULD buy organic.
Does a link to pesticides possibly lowering your child’s IQ make you more interested in buying organic? What cost differential are you willing to pay for organic foods? Where you do find the best prices on organics? Do you rinse fruits and vegetables? Do you actually scrub those with peels?
– Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, ajc.com Momania. I have increased my Twitter activity. I am sending out great stories for moms each day focusing on health, fitness, sex, entertainment, food, travel and obviously parenting! So follow me on Twitter at @AJCMOMania!)