"Researchers measured the levels of pesticide byproducts in the urine of 1,139 children from across the United States. Children with above-average levels of one common byproduct had roughly twice the odds of being diagnosed with ADHD, according to the study, which appears in the journal Pediatrics."
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Organophosphates are “designed” to have toxic effects on the nervous system, says the lead author of the study, Maryse Bouchard, PhD, a researcher in the department of environmental and occupational health at the University of Montreal. “That’s how they kill pests.”
The pesticides act on a set of brain chemicals closely related to those involved in ADHD, Bouchard explains, “so it seems plausible that exposure to organophosphates could be associated with ADHD-like symptoms.”
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Detectable levels of pesticides are present in a large number of fruits and vegetables sold in the U.S., according to a 2008 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cited in the study. In a representative sample of produce tested by the agency, 28% of frozen blueberries, 20% of celery, and 25% of strawberries contained traces of one type of organophosphate. Other types of organophosphates were found in 27% of green beans, 17% of peaches, and 8% of broccoli.
Although kids should not stop eating fruits and vegetables, buying organic or local produce whenever possible is a good idea, says Bouchard.
“Organic fruits and vegetables contain much less pesticides, so I would certainly advise getting those for children,” she says. “National surveys have also shown that fruits and vegetables from farmers’ markets contain less pesticides even if they’re not organic. If you can buy local and from farmers’ markets, that’s a good way to go.”
Beautiful fruit photo courtesy of http://www.duckdelivery.com/.