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  • Did You Know?
    Three new studies confirm that exposures to common insecticides during pregnancy can cut a child’s IQ 4% to 7%  by age 9.
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Pre-natal pesticide exposure effects greater in stressful environments

Sep 02, 2016
Photo credit: Liji Jinaraj

Photo credit: Liji Jinaraj

A new study published in the journal Neurotoxicology demonstrates that social stressors such as economic strain or poor learning environments can magnify the negative impacts of pre-natal exposure to organophosphate (OP) pesticides. Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley investigated the interaction between social stressors and prenatal OP pesticide exposure using 329 participants in the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS) study. The mothers and their children were followed from pregnancy until the children reached age 7. Dialkyl phosphate metabolite concentrations (DAPs), created when OP pesticides are broken down in the body, were measured at two separate times while the mothers were pregnant. Once the children reached age 7 their IQs were calculated using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children. Stressors in the children’s homes were assessed via interviews and home visits at various times over the seven-year period. While researchers found that higher levels of total social stress as well as negative parent-child relationships and poor learning environment were generally correlated with lower IQs for all test subjects, the negative correlation was significantly stronger for children of mothers who had elevated DAP levels during their pregnancy. They also found that results varied based on the sex of the children.  For example, girls born from mothers who had high DAP concentrations during pregnancy and who underwent high levels of adversity had a 10-point decrease in IQ compared to girls from mothers with high DAP concentrations who experienced less adversity. Boys, on the other hand were more likely to experience a significant drop in IQ if they were born to mothers with higher DAP concentrations during pregnancy and the boys lived in a poor learning environment. “This study suggests that children with high prenatal exposure to organophosphates who also experience specific early and persistent toxic stress may be at a greater risk for adverse cognitive development,” the authors conclude.

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One Response to “Pre-natal pesticide exposure effects greater in stressful environments”

  1. comment on reversing negative cognitive declines due to pre natal pesticide exposure and OP pesticides says:

    i feel it is important to help these children who are experiencing increased stress along with cognitive declines by introducing a second element meant to improve cognitive functioning, memory. learning ability, reaction time, problem solving speed and abilities as well as improving/increasing IQ

    Initially the studies seemed to have a goal of informing the Big Ag industry of the hazards and extreme harm of pesticides

    but it is not understood why the current study is important for research dollars

    Instead some kind of solution in addition to Banning all pesticide use in the world and that locality (which it is innocently understood was the goal of the Salinas projects originally)
    some second element needs to be introduced to reverse the negative effects of pre natal pesticide exposure
    in addition to removing the source of the exposure and eating organic foods

    i believe that the researchers may have been offered one such modality
    but am corresponding because I feel puzzled as to the value of the current study

    with kind regards