Harmful Insecticide Could Cause Brain Damage In Children


Pregnant mothers exposed to a prevalent insecticide used for farming purposes could bear children who go on to develop brain damage decades later, says a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The chemical on the hot seat is chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate insecticide that has already been banned for residential use over a decade ago in 2001. However, it is still relied upon as a common chemical for non-organic farming purposes, because it kills bugs through brain function disruption– but it might be doing the same to America’s young children.

Former studies have associated overexposure to organophosphate pesticides to things like low IQ in children, autism, ADHD, and the most prevalent kind of childhood leukemia. But this latest study is the first one that uses brain scans to examine brain damage connected with greater prenatal exposures of the common organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos.

During the experiment, researchers used umbilical-cord blood samples to decipher a child’s prenatal insecticide exposure, before using brain scan examinations on two separate groups of the same children years later once they’d reached elementary school. One of the groups experienced high exposure to chlorpyrifos during pregnancy, with the other group had very little chemical exposure.

The scans examined areas in the brain that work with high levels of brain functioning, language, attention, and emotions. The study’s authors realized that children with the highest amount of exposure to chlorpyrifos insecticide before birth were more likely to have abnormally-sized brains, as well as odd alterations in those areas.

According to United States Department of Agriculture pesticide residue testing, approximately 30 percent of non-organic apples carry this dangerous insecticide. Worse yet, 57 percent of imported, non-organic bell peppers hold worrisome amounts of the harmful neurotoxin, too.

This study continues a recent surge of research that indicate eating organic foods could help keep children from diseases associated with farming chemicals.


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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Steve Baker

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