We don’t want to think our kids aren’t as smart as they could be.
But, thanks to the chemicals that keep pests off food crops that may be the sad reality.
Three separate studies connect exposure to pesticides during pregnancy to lower IQ scores in kids. Researchers were especially concerned with a farming region in California, where kids and their moms were probably exposed to pesticides used on local crops.
The studies concern organophosphates, which disrupt the brains and nervous systems of insects. Thing is, they do the same thing to humans — after all, they were developed as nerve poison during WWII.
All researchers can do at this point is draw a link between the damage and the pesticides — they’ll never be able to prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship, because obviously nobody is going to assign a group of kids to a “pesticide exposure” group in the name of science. But I think a link should be strong enough — why keep playing the “it hasn’t been proven!” game when we’re talking about children?
Two of the studies took place in New York and the third was in the region of California I already mentioned. In all of the studies, there was a link between pesticide exposure and lower IQ scores by age 7. In the farming region of California, every 10-fold increase in organophosphates detected in the urine of the mothers when they were pregnant was linked to a 5.5-point IQ drop by age 7.
Kids in the lowest 20 percent of exposure had, on average, a 7-point higher IQ level than kids who were in the 20 percent that had the most exposure — that’s a difference of about 6 months of brain development.
Researchers said the exposure could lead to some kids requiring special education.
Luckily, reducing exposure to pesticides is fairly simple. Don’t use pesticides in the home, and buy organic produce. Anything that’s not organic — wash it — even if you’re going to peel it.
Of course, these tips don’t help families like those who were studied in California — short of moving to another area, they can’t do much about living near the farms that use the dangerous chemicals.
Ms. O’Brien has written for Nutrition & Healing, Healthier Talk and a variety of other natural and alternative health outlets. She believes in the power of natural medicine and her goal is to open people’s eyes to the benefits of alternative and integrative medicine.
Christine is passionate about helping people help themselves without having to turn to harsh drugs or invasive surgeries.
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