The healthy fruits and vegetables you feed your little one to make him grow “big and strong” could actually be injuring his brain, according to a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics. Scientists have discovered that exposure to pesticides called organophosphates – which are known to damage the brain’s nerve connections – increases the likelihood that a child will suffer from the learning disorder Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which 4.5 million children have been diagnosed with in the United States.
This is yet another finding in a growing series of disturbing studies which link diseases to environmental chemicals that run rampant in our everyday lives. The lowdown: the study was led by Maryse Bouchard in cooperation with researchers at The University of Montreal and Harvard University. They analyzed the levels of pesticide residue in urine samples from 1,139 children ages 8-15. The samples containing the highest level of dialkyl phosphates, which are the breakdown of organophosphate pesticides, also had the highest incidence of ADHD. Additionally, nearly 95 percent of the children had at least one byproduct of a pesticide detected in their urine.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, the children most likely accumulated the pesticides in their systems through dietary exposure, and by eating fruits and vegetables that were sprayed with the pesticides while growing as crops. Bouchard recommends feeding children organic produce whenever possible, and washing, scrubbing and peeling all fruits and vegetables to help remove toxic residues. Additionally, parents should avoid using bug sprays in or around their home.
As an added FYI: strawberries, raspberries and peaches contain the highest amounts of pesticides, so be certain to buy organic in these varieties.
Image: Dive Master King 2000