Berkeley In a new study suggesting pesticides may be associated with the health and development of children, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley's School of Public Health have found that prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides widely used on food crops is related to lower intelligence scores at age 7.
The researchers found that every tenfold increase in measures of organophosphates detected during a mother's pregnancy corresponded to a 5.5 point drop in overall IQ scores in the 7-year-olds. Children in the study with the highest levels of prenatal pesticide exposure scored seven points lower on a standardized measure of intelligence compared with children who had the lowest levels of exposure.
"These associations are substantial, especially when viewing this at a population-wide level," said study principal investigator Brenda Eskenazi, UC Berkeley professor of epidemiology and of maternal and child health. "That difference could mean, on average, more kids being shifted into the lower end of the spectrum of learning, and more kids needing special services in school."
The UC Berkeley study is among a trio of papers showing an association between pesticide exposure and childhood IQ to be published online April 21 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Notably, the other two studies one at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, the other at Columbia University examined urban populations in New York City, while the UC Berkeley study focused on children living in Salinas, an agricultural center in Monterey County, California.
The studies in New York also examined prenatal exposure to pesticides and IQ in children at age 7. Like the UC Berkeley researchers, scientists at Mt. Sinai sampled pesticide metabolites in maternal urine, while researchers at Columbia looked at umbilical cord blood levels of a specific pesticide, chlorpyrifos.
|Contact: Sarah Yang|
University of California - Berkeley