Kids & Pesticides
When it comes to pesticides, children are among the most vulnerable. Pound for pound, they drink 2.5 times more water, eat 3-4 times more food, and breathe 2 times more air. They therefore absorb a higher concentration of pesticides than adults.
Infants and children also face unique exposure because of how they interact with the world: they crawl on the ground and put things in their mouths — including their hands. They also face exposure during critical windows in the womb and via breast milk.
Developing Brains & Bodies
Since they are growing so quickly, infants and young children are more susceptible to the effects of pesticide exposure than adults. Their developing brains and bodies are in the midst of complex and fragile developmental processes that regulate tissue growth and organ development — and these developmental processes can be irreversibly derailed by pesticide exposure.
Research indicates that children exposed to pesticides either in utero, or during other critical periods face significant health risks including higher incidence of:
- Birth defects
- Neurodevelopmental delays & cognitive impairment
- Childhood brain cancers
- Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
- Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD)
- Endocrine disruption
Many of the worst pesticides, known as “persistent organic pollutants,” or POPs, contaminate our water and soil for years. They move on the wind and in streams, rivers and oceans and concentrate as they move up the food chain. Other pesticides are so widely and heavily used that they contamine our food and water supplies (chlorpyrifos and atrazine are good examples).
So, while farmer and farmworker's children bear some of the highest risks, pesticides contaminate the environment and permeate the food supply such that even kids in city cafeterias face daily exposure.
Health Effects: The State of the Science
Birth Defects :: This April 2009 study reports that birth defect rates in the United States are highest among women conceiving in the spring and summer, a time period correlated with increased levels of pesticides in surface water.
Developmental Neurotoxicity/IQ reduction :: Fetal and childhood exposures to widely used organophosphate pesticides, especially chlorpyrifos, have raised concerns about developmental neurotoxicity. In 2011, several independent studies documented cognitive effects of in uteru dietary exposure, including significant IQ reduction. A study of Yaqui Indian children in Mexico found that an array of impaired brain and nervous system functions, including social behaviors and the ability to draw, are correlated to pesticide exposure during development.
Brain Development :: Many developmental effects are not measurable at birth, or even later in life, because brain and nervous system disturbances are expressed in terms of how an individual behaves and functions. Reviewing the literature on pesticide exposure at various points in neurological development, this article finds that current pesticide risk assessment strategies are ill-equipped to measure or protect against the many kinds of exposure faced by developing fetuses, infants and children.
Childhood Brain Cancer :: Brain cancer is the second most common type of cancer in children, and it has been on the rise, but why it develops remains unclear. This February 2009 study finds that children who live in homes where their parents use pesticides are twice as likely to develop brain cancer versus those that live in residences in which no pesticides are used.
Autism Spectrum Disorder :: Researchers found a sixfold increase in risk factor for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) for children of women who were exposed to organocholorine pesticides, this study was one of the first to link in utero pesticide exposure to ASD.
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder & dietary pesticide exposure :: A May 2010 study out of Harvard shows that even tiny, allowable amounts of a common pesticide class can have dramatic effects on brain chemistry. Organophosphate pesticides (OP’s) are among the most widely used pesticides in the U.S., they work by interfering with brain signaling in insects. OPs have long been understood to be particularly toxic for children, but this is the first study to examine their effects across a representative population with average levels of exposure.
Developmental Effects Beyond Neurotoxicity: Immediate & Delayed-Onset Effects on Heart & Liver Function :: The fetal and neonatal neurotoxicity of chlorpyrifos (CPF) and related insecticides is a major concern. Developmental effects of CPF involve mechanisms over and above cholinesterase inhibition, notably events in cell signaling that are shared by nonneural targets. This study finds that the developmental toxicity of CPF extends beyond the nervous system, to include cell signaling cascades that are vital to heart and liver functioning.
Low Birth Weight :: Pregnant women in upper Manhattan who were heavily exposed to two common insecticides had smaller babies than their neighbors. Recent restrictions on the two substances quickly lowered exposure and increased babies' size.Source: http://www.panna.org/your-health/children