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Prenatal exposure to pesticides linked to attention problems
Date:8/19/2010

Berkeley Children who were exposed to organophosphate pesticides while still in their mother's womb were more likely to develop attention disorders years later, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.

The new findings, to be published Aug. 19 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), are the first to examine the influence of prenatal organophosphate exposure on the later development of attention problems. The researchers found that prenatal levels of organophosphate metabolites were significantly linked to attention problems at age 5, with the effects apparently stronger among boys.

Earlier this year, a different study by researchers at Harvard University associated greater exposure to organophosphate pesticides in school-aged children with higher rates of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms.

"These studies provide a growing body of evidence that organophosphate pesticide exposure can impact human neurodevelopment, particularly among children," said the study's principal investigator, Brenda Eskenazi, UC Berkeley professor of epidemiology and of maternal and child health. "We were especially interested in prenatal exposure because that is the period when a baby's nervous system is developing the most."

The study follows more than 300 children participating in the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS), a longitudinal study led by Eskenazi that examines environmental exposures and reproductive health. Because the mothers and children in the study are Mexican-Americans living in an agricultural community, their exposure to pesticides is likely higher and more chronic, on average, than that of the general U.S. population.

Yet, the researchers pointed out that the pesticides they examined are widely used, and that the results from this study are a red flag that warrants precautionary measures
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Contact: Sarah Yang
scyang@berkeley.edu
510-643-7741
University of California - Berkeley
Source:Eurekalert

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