A recent article, “Pesticides Are Dumbing Down Our Kids,” by Leah Zerbe on the Rodale website suggests that the prevalence of pesticides in our environment is having a tremendously negative effect on our children. Zerbe reports on conclusions reached from three studies at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the University of California-Berkeley School of Public Health, and Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. The negative impact of pesticide exposure can begin in pregnancy: “Children born to mothers with higher levels of pesticides in their body during pregnancy go on to experience lower IQ scores in elementary school…”

The researchers were able to link their results to organoposphates (chlorpyrifos, in particular), one category of pesticides that are common bug killers. The subjects of the study were approximately 800 women from different parts of the country who live in urban and rural areas. Not only were the pesticides found in the urine of pregnant women, but it was found in the umbilical cord babies. These researchers followed up with the children of the pregnant mothers when they were in elementary school and found that those who were exposed to pesticides while their mothers were pregnant showed poorer brain functioning. There was a seven-point reduction in IQ in the children with the highest exposure to pesticides when compared to those with the lowest exposure.

It appears that pesticides may significantly impair children’s health and mental functioning. Many experts believe that it may be a factor in the significant number of children with ADHD and, possibly, autism. Additionally, “many pesticides are believed to be hormone disruptors, and prenatal exposure could set people up for chronic diseases like diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and obesity.”

Not only is prenatal pesticide exposure a significant problem, the problem persists because children continue to be exposed when they eat nonorganic foods. “Chlorpyrifos has turned up on nonorganic apples, kale, bell peppers, and other produce…”

Zerbe suggests the following to keep pesticides out of your body:
• Be a budget organic buyer.
• Beat back pests naturally.
• Get a great, green lawn.