Childhood exposure to pesticides negatively affects neurodevelopment in children

Photo credit: Asboluv Photo credit: Asboluv

A recent article published in the scientific journal Environment International has found that pesticide exposure can lead to neurodevelopmental impairment. Researchers from Spain investigated the associations between exposure to commonly used organophosphate pesticides before and after birth on childhood neurodevelopment. Three hundred and five children were randomly selected from public schools in the study area. The children’s urine was tested for metabolites created when organophosphate pesticides break down in the body and early exposure to pesticides was estimated using land use maps and data. The researchers found that children with higher levels of pesticide metabolites in their urine tended to test lower for intelligence and comprehension. The trend was stronger in boys than it was in girls. Researchers also found that children living closer to agricultural cropland after birth were more likely to score lower on neurodevelopmental tests. Children exposed to pesticides prenatally also exhibited negative neurodevelopmental effects but to a lesser extent than postnatal exposure. The authors conclude, “Pesticides thus represent a major public health problem due to their extensive agricultural use and the greater vulnerability of children’s brains.”