Laboring for Health

Since it’s Labor Day, it seems only fitting to share a news item relevant to those who truly know what it is like to endure labor, mothers. The article, which is a couple of weeks old (making it ancient in the Information Age), concerns a potential link between prenatal exposure to pesticides and the future development of attention deficit disorders. That such a link may exist is not entirely surprising. But it is alarming nonetheless. We live amid a multitude of toxins, which individually and in combination may impact the most vulnerable among us in ways that we cannot always imagine or appreciate. At least, not until the body of scientific data and the resulting public uproar become too powerful to ignore. In the meantime, it pays to be attentive and cautious.

From U.S. News & World Report:

Pesticide Exposure in the Womb Increases ADHD Risk

Exposure to pesticides while in the womb may increase the odds that a child will have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to researchers at the University of California-Berkeley School of Public Health. Combine that with research published in May in Pediatrics finding that children exposed to pesticides were more likely to have ADHD, and it’s enough to make parents wonder how to reduce their family’s exposure to pesticides.

The California researchers are studying the impact of environmental exposures on the health of women and children who live in the Salinas Valley, an agricultural region with heavy pesticide use. They tested the urine of pregnant women for pesticide residue, and then tested the behavior of their children at ages 3½ and 5. The 5-year-olds who had been exposed to organophosphate pesticides while in the womb had more problems with attention and behavior than did children who were not exposed. What’s more, the heavier the pesticide exposure, the more likely that the child would have symptoms of ADHD . The results were published online in Environmental Health Perspectives.

This isn’t proof that pesticides cause ADHD, but since organophosphate pesticides are neurotoxins that kill pests by disrupting neurotransmitters that carry signals though the brain, it’s easy to imagine that exposure to organophosphate might interfere with brain function and development. [full article]

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2 thoughts on “Laboring for Health

  1. Farmworkers, poorly paid and working temporary jobs in bad conditions, are the most exposed to any unsafe chemicals that are allowed in agriculture.
    If we want safe food on the supermarket shelf, we should look at the fields where it’s grown.

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