The Time Has Come to Limit Pesticide Exposure
Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics' flagship journal, Pediatrics,
published what I believe will become a landmark article on the link between
toxins in the environment and the epidemic of cognitive dysfunction in our
The study observes an association between exposure to a certain class of pesticides, the organo-phosphates, and the chance that a child could develop AD/HD.
The authors found that for children who had higher than average levels of some forms of this pesticide in their urine, the chance of developing ADHD nearly doubled.
The research was done well. The researchers were from Boston University, University of Montreal, and Harvard (including the site of my residency training, Boston Children's Hospital).
The sample size was large, including 1,139 children from a national sample that is carefully constructed to represent a wide swath of backgrounds, in this case children 8-15 years old from 2000-2004.
Organo-phosphates are a very common category of pesticide. In the United States about 73 million pounds are applied on our lawns, homes, and food every year. In 2008, the US reported that one could find organo-phosphates on 28% of frozen blueberry, 25% of strawberry, and 19% of celery samples.
The authors refer to other studies that show a link between organo-phosphate exposure during pregnancy and the development of autism spectrum disorders, particularly PDD. Children ages 6-11 tend to have the highest levels of organo-phosphate in their body of any age group due to patterns of intake and metabolism.
The study looked at one urine sample in each child, so a complete picture of the overall level of exposure could not be made. But even so, the results were not influenced by the child's gender, age, ethnicity, time from last meal, urinary function, or level of poverty/wealth. In every group examined, as the level of pesticide went up in the urine, the chance of having ADHD increased.
Further, the levels of pesticides in the urine did not drop over time. This means that as a group, it is likely that American children had no drop in the amount of pesticide in their body during the time period of 2000-2004.
Organo-phosphate pesticides are widely used in homes, lawns, and food. There is even an organo-phosphate form of lice therapy, sold under the brand name of Ovid, but chemically known as malathion. (This is exactly why Advanced Pediatrics has always been opposed to the use of Ovid).
Organo-phosphates work by making sure electrical signals across key nerves fail to progress. In insects they work essentially like nerve gas, paralyzing the insect. In fact, some of the most famous nerve gases developed for human warfare, Saran and VX, are also organo-phosphate compounds. So it makes sense that a low dose of such a compound could cause neurologic dysfunction.
This study adds a very significant piece of evidence to the growing body of evidence that pesticides, and certainly the organo-phosphates, are poisons to human minds, particularly developing minds.
- Organo-phosphate pesticides are now clearly associated with increased risks of developing AD/HD and autism spectrum disorders.
- The nature of these compounds the observation of an association is sufficient, in my mind, to call for the most stringent steps to avoid exposure to organo-phosphate pesticides, at any age.
- To that end, we recommend that:
- All fruits and vegetables be either organic or thoroughly washed before eating
- Ensure that no pesticides applied to your lawn contain organo-phosphate pesticides. This can be done by asking your lawn service what the category of pesticide is that they use. For pesticides bought by you, search the web for each active ingredient and determine the category of each active ingredient. If they contain organo-phosphates, dispose of them responsibly ASAP. If your lawn service uses organo-phosphates, insist that they stop.
- Ensure that no pesticides applied in your home contain organo-phosphate pesticides. This can be done by asking your pest control service what the category of pesticide is that they use. For pesticides bought by you, search the web for each active ingredient and determine the category of each active ingredient. If they contain organo-phosphates, dispose of them responsibly ASAP. If your pest control service uses organo-phosphates, insist that they stop.
****Organo-phosphate pesticides may cause harm to developing and even developed brains, we urge everyone to take these steps to protect anyone you care about from being exposed to them.****
Dr. Arthur Lavin
*Disclaimer* The comments contained in this electronic source of information do not constitute and are not designed to imply that they constitute any form of individual medical advice. The information provided is purely for informational purposes only and not relevant to any person's particular medical condition or situation. If you have any medical concerns about yourself or your family please contact your physician immediately. In order to provide our patients the best uninfluenced information that science has to offer,we do not accept samples of drugs, advertising tchotchkes, money, food, or any item from outside vendors.