Prenatal pesticide exposure linked to behavioral issues in children

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pesticide-exposure-linked-to-behavioral-issues(NaturalHealth365)  If you live in an alternative universe where behavioral problems like aggression and attention deficit are somehow desirable, exposing your kids to pesticides might be exactly what you’re looking for.  But, if that’s the case, you’re not going to like what you’re about to read…

Of course, for those of us living in modern-day reality, exposing our kids to harmful toxins is the antithesis of protecting our loved ones.  But a new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives reinforces the growing concern that certain types of pesticides – widespread in the environment – can damage the mental health and development of infants and children.  Sadly, too many parents remain uninformed about the danger.

Exposure to common agricultural pesticides while in the womb linked to behavior problems in childhood, study says

The study’s co-authors gathered data from mothers and children in an agricultural community cohort group called the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS).  The authors note that prior research involving this cohort showed that prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides is already linked to “poorer neurodevelopment in early childhood and at school age, including poorer cognitive function and more behavioral problems.”

Their new study measured organophosphate metabolites in urine samples collected from mothers twice during their pregnancies.  The authors also tested the urine samples of these women’s children as many as five times between the ages of 6 months and five years.  Using standardized assessment tools, the researchers then evaluated maternal and youth reports of various behavioral problems.

Here’s what they found:

Higher urine levels of maternal organophosphate metabolites during pregnancy were associated with increased reports of health problems later in childhood, including depression, hyperactivity, and attention issues.  Behavioral and mental health problems were less strongly associated with childhood exposure to organophosphate pesticides, suggesting that the greater risk of pesticide exposure was when it occurred in utero.

When summarizing their analysis, the authors mince no words, stating that “that prenatal exposure to [organophosphate] pesticides may have lasting effects on the behavioral health of youth as they mature into adulthood, including their mental health.” Sadly, this isn’t even the first study to find such concerning correlations.

These findings are relevant to us all.  The authors note that even though organophosphate pesticide use has declined in the past 20 years, pesticide metabolites are still “universally detected in representative samples of the general U.S. population.”

Pregnant?  Here’s how to avoid pesticide exposure when you’re expecting

As questionable and untrustworthy as our nation’s three-letter federal agencies have become, even these organizations advise pregnant women to avoid pesticide exposure.  For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns on a webpage that pesticide exposure “could increase your chances of having a miscarriage, a baby with birth defects, or other problems.”

Of course, the CDC is specifically talking about pesticide exposure as an occupational hazard – for individuals like farmers, veterinarians, landscapers, and pest service providers – rather than pesticide exposure through food and daily living.  But out of an abundance of caution, many other health experts urge pregnant women of all lifestyles and backgrounds to take extra precautions.  (And after all, even the CDC acknowledges that “we don’t know what levels of exposure to pesticides are safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding” and that women should “try to reduce or eliminate your exposure as much as possible.”)

With that said, here are a few simple strategies that the Environmental Working Group (EWG) recommends to better protect yourself and your unborn child from the potential harms of pesticides:

  • Don’t use pesticides at home – and if you hire landscaping services, look for a company that uses natural products.
  • Buy organic fruits and veggies as much as your budget allows – and if you have to pick and choose, go for organic when purchasing produce known to have high pesticide residue when grown conventionally, including basil, mustard greens, raisins, mangos, cilantro, frozen spinach, frozen strawberries, snap peas, and sweet bell peppers (according to the nonprofit public interest group Earth Justice).
  • If you have cats or dogs, seek the advice of a holistic veterinarian to reduce exposure to unwanted chemicals.
  • Purify your water and air by using home air (and water) filters and plants like, peace lily, spider and rubber plants.

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