Some of us may not be too concerned about eating organic. Heck, with today's busy lifestyle, it's a challenge to just get enough fruits and vegetables in our diet. However, there is a special group of people who may need to eat as organic as possible. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), infants and children can be especially sensitive to the health risks posed by pesticides. (1) One reason for their vulnerability, says EPA , is that your internal organs are still developing and maturing. Another reason is that, relative to their body weight, children eat and drink more than adults, which increases their exposure to pesticides. Additionally, children's exposure to pesticides increases due to their tendency to put objects in their mouths and play on grass, floors, etc.
Many studies show the effects of pesticides on children. In 2010, the journal Pediatrics published a study by the Harvard School of Public Health that found that children with high levels of pesticides known as organophosphates were twice as likely to develop ADHA (Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity-Disorder). 2) The data found were based on the general population of the United States. Which means that pesticides could be harmful at levels normally exposed to children. Researchers agree that this is a strong association and that, if true, it is a very serious concern as these are widely used pesticides. Organophosphates were originally developed for chemical warfare and are known to be toxic to the nervous system.
Beyond infants and children, new studies also show that pesticides in fruits and vegetables can also be harmful to a developing fetus. A new study from the University of California, Berkeley, linked prenatal pesticide exposure to lower IQ levels in children. The study measured pesticide exposure in the urine of pregnant women in Salinas and found an IQ deficit of 7 points in children whose mothers had the highest levels of pesticides. (3) Alarmingly, the concentrations of pesticides in the urine were within the range of median levels in the US population In other words, it was an average amount of exposure. This was one of three studies published on April 27, 2011 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, showing the association between pesticide exposure and children's IQs. The other two studios, one in Mt. The Sinai Medical Center, and the other at Columbia University, examined the populations of the interior of New York City. The researchers were surprised by the level of consistency between the populations in the studies, which is highly unusual.
What do you take home from all these studies related to pesticides and children? The answer is simple. Reduce your exposure as much as possible. How?
- Choose organically grown fruits and vegetables. This in itself can dramatically reduce children's exposure to pesticides and other chemicals. Identify the foods that are most treated with pesticides, known as the “dirty dozen”, that you should always try to buy organic, such as strawberries, apples, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce and other green leafy vegetables, peaches, nectarines, etc.
- Foods that are less contaminated, known as the "clean fifteen," are generally safe to buy conventional, such as avocados, onions, cabbages, sweet potatoes, and so on. Follow the researchers' recommendation by washing fruits and vegetables very thoroughly.
- Avoid using pesticides and insecticides in and around your home. Most hardware stores have natural forms of pesticides and insecticides as a safer alternative. Even then, you should keep children and their toys away from the treated areas. You can also find many tips on homemade natural pesticides on the Internet.
- Wash children's hands, toys, and bottles frequently. Keep floors and surfaces clean to reduce exposure to pesticide residues and other chemicals.
(1) Official website of the Environmental Protection Agency: https://www.epa.gov/pesticides
(2) Bouchard MF, Bellinger DC, Wright RO, Weisskopf MG. Attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder and urinary metabolites of organophosphate pesticides. PEDIATRICS vol. 125 No. June 6, 2010, pp. E1270-e1277 (doi: 10.1542 / peds.2009-3058). Available online: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/125/6/e1270?
(3) Bouchard MF, Chevrier J, Harley KG, Kogut K, Vedar M, et al. 2011 Prenatal Exposure to Organophosphate Pesticides and IQ in 7-Year-Old Children. Environ Health Perspect doi: 10.1289 / ehp.1003185. Available online: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21507776