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Pesticides harm kids’ ability to learn

Kids and pesticides just don't mix, according to scientists. The body of evidence showing children's health harms from pesticide exposure continues to grow. Case in point: current research by Dr. Warren Porter, covered by the Bay View Compass reveals how pesticide exposure in the womb harms the ability to learn. According to the Compass article, girls may be especially vulnerable.

Porter found that:

… female mice whose mothers were exposed to the pesticide chlorpyrifos during pregnancy were slow learners. Male mice from the same mothers were unaffected, possibly because they have different levels of liver-detoxifying enzymes.

The article notes that 94% of the U.S. population has measurable pesticide break–down products in our urine from the family of pesticides to which chlorpyrifos belongs. Additional data is forthcoming, though the Compass reports that Porter is hesitant to offer public preview before publishing due to his experience with attacks from the pesticide industry.

Porter's work builds on other research that links pesticides with learning and developmental disorders, such as ADHD. “I really got into the issue of children’s pesticide exposure after reading an article in 1997 that looked at student disabilities in the Madison Metropolitan School District,” Porter explained in his 2004 article, "Do Pesticides Affect Learning and Behavior?" “The data showed that the number of children in Madison [who] were emotionally disturbed increased 87 percent, children with learning disabilities increased 70 percent, and children with birth defects increased 83 percent” from 1990 to 1995.

Porter's scientific assessment is blunt:

We’re dosing our kids with neurotoxins like chlorpyrifos, and then we wonder why they’re having trouble learning and concentrating. We wonder why we have to medicate them all the time.

The Compass article also highlighted research showing the power of personal food choices as a solution. A recent study of 23 elementary-school-age children in Seattle showed:

When parents in the study fed their children an organic diet…for as little as one week, the levels of chlorpyrifos metabolites in their urine dropped more than four-fold to undetectable levels. This study demonstrated that an organic diet provides a dramatic and immediate protection against exposures to organophosphate pesticides commonly used in agricultural production.

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Pesticide Action Network

Pesticide Action Network is dedicated to advancing alternatives to pesticides worldwide. Follow @pesticideaction

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