We all know that pesticides are dangerous, especially for our children. I’ve come across yet another study on the dangers of pesticides and it’s link to ADHD, so I have to shout it out, again. Why are we poisoning our children?!
New research shows that exposure to high levels of organophosphate pesticides could increase the likelihood of children developing ADHD. These pesticides are on a vast majority of our fruits and vegetables in your local supermarket.
“Organophosphates are one of the most widely used pesticides in agriculture to protect crops and fruits and vegetables,” said study lead author Maryse Bouchard, an adjunct researcher in the department of environmental and occupational health at the University of Montreal and at Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre. “For children, the major source of exposure would be the diet — fruits and vegetables in particular.”
In their study, Bouchard and her colleagues analyzed data on pesticide exposure and ADHD in more than 1,100 American children aged 8 to 15. Children with higher pesticide levels in their urine were more likely to have ADHD, the team found.
“The analysis showed that the higher the level of exposure [as measured by metabolites in the urine], the higher the odds of having ADHD,” Bouchard added. “Certainly parents and children shouldn’t swear off fruits and veggies,” Bouchard noted. However, “I think it’s safe to say that we should as much as possible reduce our exposure to pesticides,” she said.
So how do we reduce our exposure? Well, by going organic, shopping at your local farmers market, and thoroughly washing your fruits and vegetables before eating them. I use a natural fruit and vegetable wash available at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s or your local health food store. Also be aware that canned or processed fruits should be organic. Apples are one of the “dirtiest fruits” with pesticide exposure, which are used for bottled applesauce.
Buying all organic fruits and vegetables can be costly, so I did find a resource that listed in importance, which twelve fruits and vegetables to buy organic and the clean fifteen foods you can buy conventionally grown. You can find this information at http://www.foodnews.org/walletguide.php?key=38863688 . They also have a free app for you iPhone titled Dirty Produce.
So just how does pesticides harm brain development? According to the authors, high doses of organophosphates may inhibit acetylcholinesterase, a nervous system enzyme. Organophosphates act to paralyze and kill insects by inhibiting their acetylcholinesterase. Lower doses of the pesticide may affect different growth factors and neurotransmitters.
In laymen terms, acetylcholinesterase is a nervous system enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine at the synaptic cleft (the space between two nerve cells) so the nerve impulse can be transmitted across the synaptic gap.
Acetylcholine assists in stimulating muscle contractions and excites nerves. An increase in acetylcholine causes a decreased heart rate and increased production of saliva, as well as readying the muscles for work. In high doses, it can cause convulsions and tremors. In deficient levels, it can contribute to motor dysfunction. In most circumstances, acetylcholine is removed quickly after acting by the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. Organophosphates inhibit this enzyme, resulting in a continued stimulation of the muscles, glands, and central nervous system.
In summary, the brain controls our central nervous system, of which ADHD is a disorder. ADHD symptoms include deficits in gross and fine motor skills, impulse control and attention, all governed by our central nervous system. Pesticides are not the primary cause of ADHD, but this study proves they are a contributing factor. As we age, the damaging effects of pesticides can cause Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. I pray that organic farming takes a foothold in America and grows larger than conventional farming. Our health and well-being depend upon it.