Possible ADHD and pesticide link found


As if it wasn't hard enough to eat "healthy" already, now another study has come out today that screams, "Grab a bag of chips instead!"

A new possible link was found between Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and pesticides commonly used on fruits and veggies. A team of researchers from Harvard University and the University of Montreal found kids with higher concentrations of pesticides in their urine were more likely to develop ADHD than those kids with low cocentrations.

While nearly all, 94 percent of the children studied, were found to have some levels of pesticides in their pee, it was the children with higher levels of organophosphates that seemed to be the worst off. The link doesn't necessary say that these pesticides did in fact cause the ADHD, but the link is strong and many are holding up the validity of the study as well-worthy and even comparing it to early findings of lead poisoning in children. Kids with higher than average traces of dimethyl alkylphosphate (an organophosphate pesticide frequently used on fruit and veggie crops) were found to be twice as likely to have ADHD than the others. 

The study, "Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Urinary Metabolites of Organophosphate Pesticides," followed 1139 children of ages 8 to 15 that were considered to be representative of the general children population in the US. The study was published in the journal Pediatrics today.

What are these pesticides? Organophosphates, originally developed for chemical warfare, attack the nervous system of insects, humans, and animals to kill them -- obviously they are pretty toxic. At low doses, the FDA considers these pesticides "safe." About 40 organophosphate pesticides are registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency and in 2001, 73 million pounds of organophosphates were used on crops here in the US, reads the study. 

A study published in the journal Neurology earlier this year also found higher levels of organophosphates in older people (65 and up) could lead to an increased chance of Alzheimer's Disease. Other organophosphates like chlorpyrifos were also found to be linked to developmental issues and ADHD, according to a 2007 study by Columbia University.

For information on what those numbers stuck on fruits and vegetables at the grocery store mean, read an old blog of mine: Know your food this holiday season

The fruits and veggies (if not grown organically) with the most pesticide residue include:
Bell peppers, celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, and blueberries

The least pesticide residued veggies and fruit:
Corn, peas, onions, eggplant and bananas

For more on fruits and veggies with pesticide residue (and good substitutes for those with a higher level) visit

So the toss-up continues, buy organic and go broke, buy crappier food and get fat, or buy pesticide-ridden fruits and veggies and risk getting some disease. Isn't cooking and eating supposed to be calming? 

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