A new study in the journal Pediatrics shows that children with higher levels of pesticides in their urine have a higher chance of having ADHD. This is not news to me, as there have been previous studies showing this link. My book covers environmental toxins along with steps you can take to protect your family from them, including pesticides.
This study is really hitting the national headlines, partly because Pediatrics is the most prestigious pediatric journal and partly because the results were so striking.
In this study, 1,139 children had their urine checked. Of those with high pesticide levels 20% had ADHD, while only 10% of those with low levels had ADHD. This is a pretty impressive result.
So what can you do about it?
Children can be exposed to pesticides through food, air, or water. Food is not only the most important source; luckily, it is the one parents can control.
To reduce your child’s exposure to pesticides, buy organic food whenever you can. Get the Environmental Working Group’s Guide of the worst and best fruits and vegetables for pesticide exposure (they have a list of the most common, plus a full guide - both are free). For example, try never to eat nonorganic peaches, but non-organic bananas aren’t so bad.
Take a minute to view the video of Andrew Weil addressing pesticides that’s on the same page.
You can also reduce exposure by not using pesticides and herbicides in your home or yard; or by keeping your children away from the areas while and after spraying.
By the way, previous research has shown that after a child begins eating organically, the levels of pesticides in the urine very quickly drop to almost zero.
Unfortunately, this study doesn’t tell us if reducing pesticides will improve the symptoms of children who already have ADHD, but it certainly might do so, and may improve their health in other ways as well.