If pesticides lower kids’ IQs, is it worth buying organics?

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.

From HealthDay News in U.S. News and World Report:

“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!)

68 comments Add your comment

HB

April 25th, 2011
5:50 am

I’ve always read that the type of skin the food has is important in deciding what to buy organic. Thick- skinned fruits like oranges and bananas absorb fewer pesticides than apple, peaches, etc.

shaggy

April 25th, 2011
6:38 am

In this economy, many people are having to make a choice between gas to get to work (if they even have a job) or higher quality food and lifestyle products.

Sadly, it’s not going to end any time soon. The dollar is in the toilet, and the speculative commodities market demands more of those greenbacks to purchase practically anything, including a barrell of oil. There is no oil shortage, or even a gasoline shortage. There is a weak dollar that is having debt “issues”.
It would help if we (USA) were still manufacturing something besides cars no one really wants or sophisticated weapons systems, which to our weapon makers credit, are still the best weapons of mass destruction available.

Buy organics if you can afford it.

gtmom

April 25th, 2011
6:49 am

It really is all about priorities. We don’t have cable (or heck even a flat screen TV). I can’t afford to remodel the house. Nor do we pay for expensive data plans on our phones (we don’t need it for work though). But we eat organic as much as possible. Everything is local grown and we hardly eat out. I find I don’t have difficult time paying for organic when I save in some many other areas. Eating organic is a priority to me but may not be to others. I was at my sister’s house yesterday and she complained to me that she could not eat organic because of the cost.. but I counted 22 (22!!) Wii games! Wow. And she and her husband drive new cars all the time with car payments around 500-700 dollar range.. Really it is about priorities. She should have said “eating organic is not important to me.” Now, there are some people who are not living the luxury lifestyle nor can they afford to eat organic…but if they have the means to a local farmers market (not everyone does though), the food there will have less pesticides and should be fairly affordable.

motherjanegoose

April 25th, 2011
7:45 am

gtmom….you did hit the nail on the head. We all make choices every day of our lives.
Those who chose to purchase gas guzzlers are not happy now. Those who extended themselves in a mortgage…perhaps the same. Those who moved OTP, like me, are complaining about the traffic to get ITP.

I am not one who is focused on buying organic foods…that is just me. I did live on the farm for years and we had our own black angus beef, fruits/veggies and eggs that were provided by chickens who ( mostly) walked around and looked for the insects they ate. We picked wild gooseberries /blackberries and made jams and pies. Now, I buy most things at the store.

Guess my own kids are not eating as healthy as I did. Their mental health/education is something I can affirm is way ahead of what I had as a child and that is something I am making a choice about.

JJ..off topic…the Ross at MOG is hiring and also the Fed Ex ( used to be Kinko’s). I promised to mention this for your daughter. There are signs for hiring at both places. Let me know if you still want me to keep my eyes open.

motherjanegoose

April 25th, 2011
7:46 am

ooops…Kinko’s…used to be Fed Ex?

JJ

April 25th, 2011
8:28 am

MJG Thanks so much for keeping your eyes open for jobs for my daughter. I am so excited to say that she will be home this weekend, she has completed her second year of college. This is ONE PROUD MOMMA!!!

I believe she already has a job. A previous employer called her a week ago, said he was opening a new store, and wanted her to come and help him. Since she will be home Friday, she can probably start next week!!!!!!

On topic – The Suwanne Farmers’ market opens this weekend!!!!! Fresh local produce. This time of year, I very rarely buy produce at the grocery stores. They also have fresh herbs, and all kinds of tomato plants, jalapeno’s, etc. I LOVE growing my own veggies. Also, the local farmers DON’T use pesticides. You can talk to them and they will tell you how the tend to their plants. I think it’s very important to support our LOCAL farmers’ and keep your money in your community.

I can’t wait to start planting my veggies. I was at a friend’s house yesterday, and we dug up some Japanese Maple trees saplings, and a weeping cherry tree sapling. I planted them in the back yard last night when I got home……..

RJ

April 25th, 2011
8:32 am

I rinse my fruits and veggies, but I certainly don’t scrub them. I just find that food today is becoming more dangerous to eat. Every day I read something about how certain 15 letter words are added to foods. Well, with the exception of the wood pulp. That I can spell. But I have stopped buying the products named on the list.

I buy organic at Publix when it’s reasonably priced. The drive to Whole Foods probably won’t be happening as much due to gas prices. It now takes $70 fill up my car (which is 13 years). I love my car, it’s not a gas guzzler, it just must use premium gas. These prices have changed a lot about my lifestyle. I really think the economy is going to affect how people shop. I live about 30 minutes from a farmer’s market. I used to never mind making the drive. Now, if it’s not at Publix, I probably won’t be getting it.

JTD3

April 25th, 2011
8:42 am

I think the phrase in quotes in the third paragraph should read “you can’t expose some kids…”

I wonder if the Director of Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health at the University of California might not have an agenda in her research. Although the connection is admittedly not conclusive, few will rememberr more than the headline.

Will this give parents another excuse for their kids not being perfect, not unlike blaming the vaccine companies for autism?

Who's laughing now

April 25th, 2011
8:47 am

And all of us who have been eating organics, speaking out about the dangers of pesticides, speaking out about the worhtlessness of the EPA and the FDA in actually insuring food safety, speaking out about the dangers of factory farmed meats and the destruction of the environment these giant farms cause, etc. are now having a GIANT WE TOLD YOU SO moment.

If only you had all listened to us instead of the liars in the government who are wholly owned by the big Agribusiness conglomerates. If you all had been buying and eating organics for the past couple of decades, the prices of these items would have fallen significantly and their availability would have gone way up. Instead, folks like Monsanto are now busy filling our world and our bodies with GMO foods that are literally destroying our current food supply and rendering organic food worthless and most of you don’t even care about this either. You will all finally come around when it is too late.

motherjanegoose

April 25th, 2011
9:00 am

Good news JJ! By the way, I think it is Suwanee. I have confused myself so many times with that spelling too!

I have terrible memories of being yanked out of bed at 6:00 a.m., as teenager, and sent to weed the garden we had. It was about 1/4 of an acre and my sister and I had to weed a row each weekday of the summer, while Mom stayed inside. We had carrots, beets, broccoli, corn, onions, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, cauliflower, potatoes and who knows what else. There was always a lot of screaming, threatening and yelling going on. Sometimes physical punishment too. It is amazing I even like fresh produce…hahaha…instead of V8. Thus, I am more into the mental health of my children.

I typically visit Chadwick’s on GA 20, when I have the time, in the summer. I love a fresh tomato!
Also their peaches! I may need to try the Suwanee farmer’s market though.

JJ

April 25th, 2011
9:10 am

We had garden chores too, and I think that’s why I have such of a love of “playing in the dirt”. Growing up, we had a huge garden that had four sections. Mom had a section, Dad, me and my brother each had sections. Every Saturday morning, we had to tend our gardens, before we were allowed to play. To this day, I cannot wear gloves while gardening, unless I’m pulling weeds. I ran across a black widow yesterday, under one of my pots……I love the feeling of dirt on my hands, and under my nails. I love being outside.

Enemas 4 Less

April 25th, 2011
9:13 am

There are a lot of things that lower people’s IQ.

American Idol
Dancing with the Stars
Romantic comedies
Most of the blogs on AJC(my IQ has dropped 3 points already!)
The iPhone
The iPad
Bacon flavored beer
Fox News

shaggy

April 25th, 2011
9:16 am

MJG,

Don’t take offense to this, but from your writing, you sound like you were just a lazy kid, and you seem to have issues with manual labor.
I grew up on a working farm and value the same things you apparently disdain. In fact, I am estatic that I had chores that taught me where food comes from at an early age. I meet many of today’s youth that REALLY need chores like the ones you abhor.

Jeff

April 25th, 2011
9:19 am

Given all the accusations that later come out as “well, maybe there really isn’t a link”, I’ve stopped listening to these things. I eat healthy, but I’m not increasing my grocery budget 200% just because something say organic. And remember the whole issue of kids that live near power lines aren’t as bright story?

To me, it’s like the story of the boy who cried wolf. These groups have used up all their credibility with me. Besides, who runs lmy life? Them or me?

Saint Simons

April 25th, 2011
9:26 am

Certain races just seem to have lower IQs, just as certain races are more physically gifted in professional sports like basketball and football. I don’t think pesticides have anything to do with it. And before you say it, No, I’m not racist and I’m not judging, just look at statistics.. they don’t lie!

Enemas 4 Less

April 25th, 2011
9:31 am

Well?…Who does run your life Jeff?

Enemas 4 Less

April 25th, 2011
9:32 am

And your race must be the dumbest Saint Simons.

Saint Simons

April 25th, 2011
9:33 am

Actually yes, statistically speaking, my race is the “dumbest” as you put it. My son also has a full basketball scholarship to a major university.

Techmom

April 25th, 2011
9:34 am

@RJ, I feel you. These gas prices are killing us. My husband drives 62 miles each way. He’s now driving my car and I’m driving his truck. Cost me $95 to fill it up yesterday. I wanted to cry. We are definitely limiting our trips and trying to combine trips for errands.

I love summer time fruits & veggies. My tomato plants have lots of blooms and several small tomatoes already. I wish I could buy more local but there are some things that you just can’t find locally grown. I thought it was interesting that one of the items on the list that is high in pesticides is grapes. Have you ever scrubbed grapes? How do you scrub grapes without damaging them?? Maybe it’s better to forgo them?

Enemas 4 Less

April 25th, 2011
9:34 am

Let me add to my list of things that lower IQ:

Tyler Perry
The Space Shuttle
Wine snobs
The Bible
NASCAR
Head injuries
Foot odor

Enemas 4 Less

April 25th, 2011
9:37 am

An athletic scholarship to a “major” university?

I didn’t know DeVry had a team still.

JJ

April 25th, 2011
9:41 am

Don’t be dissing Tyler Perry!!!! He does A LOT for the Atlanta community. And he makes some pretty good movies!!!! Diary of a Mad Black Woman was on last night, and I watched it again, for the umpteenth time….only the first hour. Celebrity Apprentice was on at 9.

And I’m border line wine snob……I won’t pay over $20 for a bottle….LOL….

Enemas 4 Less

April 25th, 2011
9:44 am

His TV shows are hideous with the stereotyping and over the top characters. Also, he needs to go ahead and get the reassignment surgery.

WreckIt

April 25th, 2011
9:44 am

Uh oh…. This weekend I saw Madea’s Big Happy Family, came home and drank a lovely Bordeaux while reading Paul’sl letter to the Ephesians, and debated whether NASCAR drives get stinky feet while driving a race.

But I’m not sure how you think the space shuttle lowers your IQ. Unless you were on one of the two of them that blew up… that lowered their IQs in a hurry!

Saint Simons

April 25th, 2011
9:46 am

Enemas 4 Less – Is Auburn University “major” enough for you??

motherjanegoose

April 25th, 2011
9:49 am

@ shaggy….I am not taking offense at your ridiculous comment…but I will clarify.

Since you do not know me, you cannot possibly understand the KUKOO childhood I had. My sisters and I still scratch our heads at our past.

I was not lazy. I picked blackberries and sold them to the locals from the time I was 13. I cooked, cleaned ( our house) and also worked 28 hours per week at Wal Mart, from the time I turned 16 and was a Junior in HS. I also payed my parents $20 per week room and board…that was in the 1970’s. Did I mention that ( in the summer) I hauled hay all day, in long sleeves and overalls since the hay would scratch your arms to smithereens ( sp?) and the temp. was 90 degrees plus. THEN, I went to work the night shift at Wal Mart. I had no brothers and thus also knew how to drive a tractor. I even sewed for anyone and everyone who would pay me so that I could save up money for college. I could make a dress, skirt and pair of slacks in one day. THAT, my friend, is not lazy. Sorry shaggy but, on this one, you are dead wrong.

This is not the first time you have made assumptions about me that are as far from the truth as possible. When I mention your off base comments to folks who know me…they reply WHAT?

I put myself through college, without $100 cash from my parents. I did drive a 1966 Ford station wagon ( in 1980) that was provided for me. I am not about to pass my childhood along to my children. We expect our children to work hard but we want them to be happy too.

Many kids, today, would not last one week doing the chores I did on the farm.

You are correct about manual labor…I do not enjoy it but I do absolutely appreciate those who have given their lives to toil outside so that we can eat. It is NOT for the faint of heart. Since I worked hard as a teen, I know what it means to work hard now and I have done so for many years. Just doing something else.

Enemas 4 Less

April 25th, 2011
9:50 am

Let me add to my list one more item that lowers our IQ

Auburn

Eye Roll

April 25th, 2011
9:52 am

The “all about choices” brigade is quite annoying. Our family has always made good choices and never lived beyong our means. In the past, organic prices were never an issue. Now that the economy is bad, things are different.

gtmom, would it make you happy if your sister sold those 22 Wii games and their cars? How much organic food do you think they would be able to buy with the profits off those items. Well today, they would be financially stupid to try and make those changes to appease a grren-eyed sister.

Sounds to me you would rather see your sister and her family create financial suicide so they can eat organic. Only then would you be happy that your sister is beneath you and by God eating healthier as well.

Saint Simons

April 25th, 2011
9:52 am

You are the moron, sir or madam. My son is a proud black man earning his education by playing some ball with his GOD given talents. And yes, my family LOVES Tyler Perry you racist!!

LMAO

April 25th, 2011
9:58 am

“Don’t be dissing Tyler Perry!!!! He does A LOT for the Atlanta community. And he makes some pretty good movies!!!!”

TP is a closet gay who makes movies to make money off of black people. The very people he makes money off of are the only people that he helps, which is like stealing from you and then giving it back. Only his target audience thinks he makes good movies.

motherjanegoose

April 25th, 2011
10:05 am

TWG…my recent comment is lost….again!

@shaggy…you are completely off base on your ideas about me…as usual.

EYE ROLL…sorry if the choices idea annoys you. I see people every day who make choices I think are ridiculous. They probably think many of the choices I make are crazy too:

*when we financed our house for 15 years instead of 30, eight years ago
*using coupons to eat out most times
*telling our kids they need a job for their own spending money
* using credit cards to pay for our gas purchase, pay the balance in full each month and then use the points we have accrued for a free trip
* drive cars we can actually afford
*not buying clothes and shoes at the mall
* keeping our dog on a leash or in our own fenced back yard

@ Saint Simons….anyone who can get a full scholarship, due to any legal talent, has my vote.
Congrats!

motherjanegoose

April 25th, 2011
10:06 am

TWG…two comments have now evaporated…did I reach my limit? I am outta here for now…I will check back later.

Saint Simons

April 25th, 2011
10:07 am

Who cares if TP is gay or not?? You must be racist AND homophobic!! If 2 men want to teabag each other, toss a salad, grease the flagpole, squat the brown monkey, etc… that is none of your business!!

LMAO

April 25th, 2011
10:15 am

@ Saint Simons

LMAO that a piece of trash like yourself is so self rightous as to call out someone for being a racist AND homophobe. You black evangelical Christians are such hypocrits.

gtmom

April 25th, 2011
10:16 am

Eye roll. it is not about that.. I am just saying.. she chooses to buy other things that are not organic.. I choose to buy organinc. In my opinion, neither is wrong.. she was wrong to say that she can’t afford organic. I would be wrong to say I can’t afford her weekly massage treatment. I just choose different and my priorities are different, neither are wrong. When I put it to her that way, she agreed. I was defending my right to purchase organics when she told me “I can’t afford to buy organic like you do.” My sister is not beneathe me and she is happy with her lot for the most part. And she agreed that she was more happy with buying a brand new pool this year than buying organic food. And that is her right! But I would not complain about not affording organic food to others around you…. just doesn’t make sense. I am sorry that offended you. I wasn’t trying to say that one priority is better than the other.. we all have different ones. I could care less about having cable or data plans but others need it.. I don’t. Cable is very important to my sister.. she enjoys watching TV and Sports. I would be bored out of mind. Neither is wrong….just different.. but my lifestyle (and my boredom for technology) allow me to spend my money elsewhere. We also have been hit by the recession.. My husband lost 65% of his pay and all of his benefits. We were lucky that we were good planners that we have been able to make it through it ok… and still eat organic.. I grew a lot vegetables myself last year.

Saint Simons

April 25th, 2011
10:22 am

@ LMAO.. I’m a Muslim if it makes a difference… and I may be a “hypocrit”, but at least I’m not a hypocrite! And I’d love to see if you would call me a piece of trash to my face… you would probably just call me “sir” and try not to wet your pants!

Saint Simons

April 25th, 2011
10:23 am

@ LMAO Stay on topic, this is about pesticides and kids’ IQs you troglodyte!

JJ

April 25th, 2011
10:28 am

Come on people….let’s stop with the nastiness.

Saint Simons

April 25th, 2011
10:31 am

Thank you JJ!! All I have to say is “Hey farmer, farmer, put away your DDT, don’t care ’bout no spots on my apples, just leave me the birds and the bees, Please!!”

JOD

April 25th, 2011
10:36 am

@JJ – I love getting dirty in the garden, but hate dirt under my nails. I wish my tomatos and peppers had blossoms already, but I started from seed for everything this year (except strawberries). I also had a happy discovery that I have a grove of peach trees, and no they are not ornamental. I may have to open a produce stand :o)

On topic…I don’t single out organic produce, but I probably will start to be more diligent in ’scrubbing’ produce when it is practical. You can always peel the skin off of an apple or peach. I am more concerned about hormones in meat and humane/ethical practices than wax on carrots (which you peel anyway). I will support our local farmers’ market for whatever I can’t harvest, and continue to buy range fed meats.

Saint Simons

April 25th, 2011
10:37 am

JOD, what kind of manure do you use? Believe it or not, the stuff out of my grandson’s diaper works great on my Big Boy tomatos.

Sylvania

April 25th, 2011
10:43 am

The concept of intelligence and the degree to which it can be measurable has been a matter of discussion. Although there is a general consensus within western science about how to define intelligence, the concept of intelligence as something that can be unequivocally measured by a single figure is not universally accepted. Also, a recurring criticism is that different societies value and promote different kinds of skills and the concept of intelligence is therefore culturally variable and cannot be measured the same in different societies.

LMAO

April 25th, 2011
10:47 am

“@ LMAO Stay on topic, this is about pesticides and kids’ IQs you troglodyte!”

When have YOU been on topic? My bad, because you are a PEST and pesticides are your enemy! Carry on cockroach!

Saint Simons

April 25th, 2011
10:47 am

Sylvania, I concur, the measurement of intelligence is a contentious topic, and one that often sparks debate among educators and psychologists. Is intelligence even measurable, they ask? And if so, is its measurement important when it comes to predicting success and failure?

Some who study the relevance of intelligence claim that there are many types of intelligence, and maintain that one type is not necessarily better than another. Students who have a high degree of spatial intelligence and a lower degree of verbal intelligence, for instance, can be just as successful as anybody else. The differences have more to do with determination and confidence than one single intelligence factor.

JJ

April 25th, 2011
10:56 am

I never use manure. I compost my fruit and veggie cast-offs, and eggshells. Then I mix it with my potting soil. Water regularly.

No pesticides, no chemicals……Marigolds planted in strategic places prevent bugs from snacking on my veggies……now if I could only do something about those pesky ants…….

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

April 25th, 2011
10:56 am

Enemas – I’ve let you run wild for the last three days. I’m looking at three days worth of comments in my cue from you — often on topic but also often mean. Please reign it in and don’t be insulting to the other people on the blog. This is your warning to play nice.

justmy2cents

April 25th, 2011
11:01 am

Wow TWG, that Einstein comment was deleted PDQ! LOL

MomsRule

April 25th, 2011
11:06 am

I was thinking the same thing about the Einsten comment!!

shaggy

April 25th, 2011
11:11 am

MJG,

Understood. It was just the way it came across, at least to me anyway. We do agree that a childhood of responsibility will make the adult more responsible. I did everything that you listed on a farm and more, or I didn’t have a very good time…lots of yelling, threatening to send me to India where child labor is appreciated, and worse than anything, no money for shaggy, Inc. In hindsight, I am VERY glad that my parents cared enough about me to “employ” me. I use what I learned every day, although I certainly didn’t love it then.

Peace be upon you. It was never my intention to offend, just understand.

motherjanegoose

April 25th, 2011
11:16 am

TWG…glad you dug things out,…thanks. I am back in.

Jodi Picoult…”the mark of intelligence is to surround yourself with people who know more than you do.”

I have learned a lot from others and even though I do not always agree with them…it keeps me thinking. I love it when I can learn something from a seat mate on the airplane or by having lunch with bloggers here who know so much more than I do, in areas I am not familiar with.

JJ…I toss all that stuff out into our back woods. We often have little creatures who enjoy an apple core or left over corncob. Do you put it in a compost bin? I have room to do that, I think. Hubby is going to build my daughter a raised bed for herbs and smaller plants. She enjoys that kind of thing and so I am encouraging her. We have baby strawberries and grapes in the yard right now.

I prefer to use my creativity with children and that is just me!