Little is known about what causes ADHD, one of the most common childhood disorders, but scientists believe both genetics (though no gene has been found yet) and the environment are factors.
Now a new study from various universities has found evidence for an environmental cause. According to the study, a specific pesticide (called deltamethrin) that's often used on home lawns, vegetable crops, gardens, and golf courses, may increase the risk of ADHD.
Researchers conducted experiments on mice, exposing them to the pesticide while they were in utero and then through lactation. Results revealed that the mice showed symptoms related to ADHD, including impulsive behavior, hyperactivity, and dysfunctional brain signals. And even when traces of the pesticide could no longer be detected as the mice reached adulthood, the ADHD-like behaviors still existed.
In particular, male mice showed more symptoms of ADHD than female mice, which correlates with studies on humans that boys are (four times) more likely than girls to be diagnosed with the disorder. The researchers also analyzed certain health data (including urine samples) from over 2,000 kids and teens -- and discovered that kids were more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD if they had a higher pesticide level in their urine.
Even though the pesticide is usually considered less toxic than others, there is now more concern about exposing any of it to kids and pregnant women -- especially because prenatal exposure to pesticides has also been linked to autism.
Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com who covers baby-related content. She loves collecting children's picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea
Understanding Treatment Plans for ADHD
Image: Farmer spraying pesticides via Shutterstock