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Pesticides associated with reduced cognitive development
MONDAY, AUGUST 10, 2015 17:51 PM

Pyrethroid insecticides are common in households all over the world. Families use them in gardens to rid their plants of unwanted pests and farmers use them on crops to keep away swarms of bugs. People realize that a high-dosage of these chemicals can have a negative impact on a person's health, but they rarely stop to think about what exposure to low-doses of these insecticides can do, especially to a young child's brain still in the developmental process.

A study published in the journal Environmental International set out to determine if low-level exposure to Pyrethroid insecticides affected a child's neurodevelopment. The researchers studied 287 mothers and their children  by collecting urine samples between 6 and 19 weeks into the pregnancy, and again when the children reached 6 years old. Two insecticide metabolites, known as 3-PBA and cis-DBCA, were associated with a negative impact on neurocognitive development, particularly for verbal comprehension and working memory scores. These ratings were measured using the  Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children.

Children are more vulnerable to pesticides, not only because they are in a delicate developmental period throughout childhood, but because they are lower to the ground, as well. When children play outside in an area that has been sprayed by pesticides, they are likely to consume small amounts of the substance, thus, negatively impacting future IQ scores.

Other harmful effects linked to pesticides
Along with developmental delays, prenatal exposure to agricultural pesticides is believed to induce autism. A study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives observed 970 participants to determine whether their residential proximity to agricultural pesticides during pregnancy was linked to autism spectrum disorders or developmental delays. The results found that mothers who were exposed to organophosphates at some point during gestation were associated with a 60 percent increased risk for autism spectrum disorders.

How to minimize exposure to pesticides
Many people are concerned about what their children are exposed to at a young age, and, if you fear for your child's development, there are steps you can take to reduce your pesticide interaction. First, living near agricultural fields nearly guarantees you and your family will come into contact with pesticides because farmers use crop dusting to protect their plants from various insects and other pests. The wind blows these chemicals onto your garden and yard, exposing you to the pesticides when you go outside. So, moving to an area with fewer agricultural fields can fix this problem.

In addition, Eartheasy suggests buying organic produce because these items are usually pesticide-free. Just to be sure, however, make sure you are washing your fruits and vegetables before consuming them. 

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