Is There a Link Between ADHD and Pesticides?

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ADHD: A Beginner's Guide for Parents: What It Means When Your Child is Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity DisorderIn May 2010, a noteworthy study was released which implied that there may be a connection between pesticides and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). For the study, approximately one thousand children were tested for organophosphates. Organophosphates are a group of common pesticides used for agricultural purposes.

The difference between this study and others performed in the past is the fact that the children studied with this test were not all from agricultural communities. This naturally led to the question: “If organophosphates were detected, where was the exposure coming from?”

This is a reasonable question because there are laws preventing the use of organophosphates in the home. So if the children in the study were not living on a farm, then where are the insecticides coming from?

The most logical explanation was that that children were ingesting pesticides through the foods they eat. Organophosphates are commonly used to spray various fruits and vegetables. The study that was released in May 2010 showed that the children showing levels of pesticide exposure had double the chance of exhibiting symptoms of ADHD. The samples were obtained through urinalysis.

While the findings of this study do not firmly establish a connection between ADHD and pesticides, it does present a strong possibility. This possibility needs to be further researched to determine if organophosphates can lead to ADHD in children.

Exactly what will Organophosphate do?

You may be wondering exactly how organophosphates can lead to ADHD symptoms. To understand this, you need to know how they function.

Organophosphates have the ability to disrupt the neurological enzyme in the brain known as acetylcholinesterase (AChE). This is the same enzyme specifically targeted in insects. Organophosphates prevent this important neurological enzyme from working properly in the insects.

Since it has been shown in other studies that ADHD is linked to AChE not working properly in their brain, it is seems logical to conclude that pesticides which target this chemical might be at fault.

homeschoolingadhdWhat can you do?

You’ve probably heard that you should always rinse off the produce you bring home from the supermarket before eating it, but this isn’t all you should do. Just washing off your produce doesn’t guarantee that all the pesticide residue will be removed. It is also important to consider that your children have smaller bodies than adults, which means their rate of exposure per body weight will be different from ours. They are also growing as well. Therefore, the rate of ingestion, absorption and effects on the body can be very different for children compared with adults.

Even if you did get all of the pesticide residue off of the outside of the produce, it is possible that the organophosphates may have penetrated through the skin and into the edible parts of the produce. This is possible because not only are fruits and vegetables sprayed at various stages of the growth period, but these pesticides soak into the soil as well. This means that the roots of the plant may “drink up” the pesticides and disburse them throughout the actual plant.

Therefore, the best thing you can do to make sure you and your family are safe from organophosphates through the foods you eat is to purchase organically grown food. This can be quite expensive, of course, but buying this produce and washing it well has been known to reduce the severity of ADHD symptoms in children.

You might also consider buying locally grown produce from farmer’s markets and discussing with them what pesticides they use, if any. Many will use natural methods, such as cross-fertilization of crops with plants that deter the insects which prey on the cash crop.

Frozen fruits and vegetables cultivated in hothouses and them flash frozen are also likely to not contain as many pesticides and even colorings and preservative solutions as those shipped all over the world, or from one end of the country to the other.

One other suggestion is to grow your own crops in your land and use only natural insecticides or repellants.

Whatever way you decide, see if you can start eating more fresh food more consciously, washing it well whenever possible and discarding the skin even if it is edible. Then see if there is any change in your child’s behavior, especially if they have already been diagnosed as having ADHD.

For more information on ADHD in children, you might be interested in:

ADHD: A Beginner’s Guide for Parents: What It Means When Your Child is Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (Health Matters Book 43)

Homeschooling Your Child with ADHD: Steps to Success (Life Matters Book 5)

School Success Strategies for Children With ADHD: A Resource Book for Parents (Life Matters 4)

The Dangers of Artificial Coloring in Food (Health Matters)

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Is There a Link Between ADHD and Pesticides?
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Is There a Link Between ADHD and Pesticides?
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Could there be a link between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and pesticides?
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