Tuesday, June 24th, 2014
Pregnant women who are exposed to chemical pesticides, especially those used to treat large farm fields, may be more likely to have babies who are later diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other developmental delay. A new study conducted at the University of California Davis reported these findings–the third major study to link pesticide exposure with autism rates–but stopped short of saying that pesticide exposure is definitely a cause of ASD.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest numbers suggest that 1 in 68 American children has an autism spectrum disorder, with its causes remaining one of the most vexing mysteries in modern medicine. The debate over whether vaccines cause autism is ongoing despite copious research disproving any link, and a recent British study found that genetics may play as much of a role as whether a child is autistic as environmental exposure does.
Reuters has more on the new study, which was conducted in California where agricultural pesticide use is carefully reported and mapped:
For the new study, the researchers used those maps to track exposures during pregnancy for the mothers of 970 children.
The children included 486 with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), 168 with a developmental delay and 316 with typical development.
In the new study, about a third of mothers had lived within a mile of fields treated with pesticides, most commonly organophosphates.
Children of mothers exposed to organophosphates were 60 percent more likely to have an ASD than children of non-exposed mothers, the authors report in Environmental Health Perspectives.
Image: Tractor spraying a field, via Shutterstock
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agriculture, ASD, Autism, autism spectrum disorders, developmental delays, pesticides, Pregnancy, pregnancy health, toxic chemicals | Categories:
Child Health, Must Read, New Research, Pregnancy
Wednesday, February 19th, 2014
American children are exposed to at least double the levels of chemicals that are known to affect the brain in ways that are linked with disorders including autism, ADHD, and dyslexia–all disorders that have been on the rise in recent years. Time.com reports on new research that has found radical changes in chemical exposure since 2006:
In 2006, scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai identified five industrial chemicals responsible for causing harm to the brain — lead, methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (found in electric transformers, motors and capacitors), arsenic (found in soil and water as well as in wood preservatives and pesticides) and toluene (used in processing gasoline as well as in paint thinner, fingernail polish and leather tanning). Exposure to these neurotoxins was associated with changes in neuron development in the fetus as well as among infants, and with lower school performance, delinquent behavior, neurological abnormalities and reduced IQ in school-age children.
Now the same researchers have reviewed the literature and found six additional industrial chemicals that can hamper normal brain development. These are manganese, fluoride, chlorpyrifos, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, tetrachloroethylene and polybrominated diphenyl ethers. Manganese, they say, is found in drinking water and can contribute to lower math scores and heightened hyperactivity, while exposure to high levels of fluoride from drinking water can contribute to a seven-point drop in IQ on average. The remaining chemicals, which are found in solvents and pesticides, have been linked to deficits in social development and increased aggressive behaviors.
The research team acknowledges that there isn’t a causal connection between exposure to any single chemical and behavioral or neurological problems — it’s too challenging to isolate the effects of each chemical to come to such conclusions. But they say the growing body of research that is finding links between higher levels of these chemicals in expectant mothers’ blood and urine and brain disorders in their children should raise alarms about how damaging these chemicals can be. The developing brain in particular, they say, is vulnerable to the effects of these chemicals, and in many cases, the changes they trigger are permanent.
“The consequence of such brain damage is impaired [central nervous system] function that lasts a lifetime and might result in reduced intelligence, as expressed in terms of lost IQ points, or disruption in behavior,” they write in their report, which was published in the journal Lancet Neurology.
They point to two barriers to protecting children from such exposures — not enough testing of industrial chemicals and their potential effect on brain development before they are put into widespread use, and the enormous amount of proof that regulatory agencies require in order to put restrictions or limitations on chemicals.
Image: Chemical pesticides, via Shutterstock
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ADHD, Autism, brain chemistry, chemicals, dyslexia, fluoride, pesticides, toxic chemicals | Categories:
Child Health, Must Read, New Research, Trends
Wednesday, October 24th, 2012
In a study that echoes other research that shows organic food to carry no more significant nutrition than conventionally-grown foods, a new report says that organic food is not conclusively more healthy for growing children than conventional foods. MSNBC.com reports:
The nation’s pediatricians have weighed in on the issue for the first time, and they say that when it comes to nutritional value, organics are virtually indistinguishable from conventionally produced foods.
“Pretty much every study shows no nutritional difference,” said Dr. Janet Silverstein, a professor of pediatric endocrinology at the University of Florida. She’s a co-author of the report published Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Silverstein and her colleagues reviewed the available studies on organic and conventionally produced foods, including produce, dairy products and meat. They considered research about issues including nutrition, hormones, antibiotics and synthetic chemical exposure, plus factors such as environmental impact and price.
Overall, the docs came to a conclusion that may surprise some parents who believe organic is best for their kids
“In the long term, there is currently no direct evidence that consuming an organic diet leads to improved health or lower risk of disease,” AAP officials said in a statement.
Image: Baby food, via Shutterstock
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Monday, June 13th, 2011
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) today released its annual “Dirty Dozen” list of the twelve fruits and vegetables that researchers find contain the highest levels of pesticide residues and are most important to buy from organic growers. The dozen items, ranked from highest to lowest pesticide load (but all highly susceptible) are:
- Nectarines (imported)
- Grapes (imported)
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Blueberries (domestic)
- Kale/Collard Greens
The list shifts slightly each year, with cherries being taken off the 2011 list (and lettuce being added after an brief absence). In a statement for the EWG’s press release announcing the list, a leading pediatrician emphasized the importance of monitoring the quality of food parents serve their children.
“I really worry that pesticides on food are unhealthy for the tender, developing brains and bodies of young children,” said Dr. Harvey Karp, MD, FAAP, creator of the book/DVD The Happiest Baby on the Block. “Parents don’t realize they’re often feeding their little ones fruits and veggies with the highest pesticide residues. Studies show even small amounts of these chemicals add up and can impair a child’s health when they’re exposed during the early, critical stages of their development. When pesticide sprayers have to bundle up in astronaut-like suits for protection, it’s clear parents want to feed their families food containing as little of these toxic chemicals as possible.”
The EWG also published its companion list, the “Clean 15,” which catalogs fruits and vegetables that are least likely to hold onto pesticide residues if grown by non-organic methods. Those foods are:
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Peas
- Cantaloupe (domestic)
- Sweet Potatoes
Do you choose organic produce when you can, and if so do you use the Dirty Dozen as your guide?
(image via: http://travel.latimes.com/)
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