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Prenatal Pesticide Exposure May Raise Risk of Attention Issues in Kids
Date:8/19/2010

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Aug. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists have noted a possible increased risk for attention disorders in children who were exposed to organophosphate pesticides while in the womb.

The effect was not significant at the age of 3 but clearly showed at age 5, according to the report from California researchers that appears in the Aug. 19 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.

Bernard Weiss, a professor of environmental medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said the time delay of the effects didn't surprise him.

Monkey studies have shown the same thing, with the actual behavioral problems not manifesting until the "brain had become mature enough to support that kind of complex behavior," he explained.

In kids, "you wouldn't really see [hyperactivity] bloom until the child gets into school," he added.

Although the findings are far from establishing a causal link, Weiss said he thought "these are very significant studies and are another form of warning to us about how many kinds of unrecognized threats there are to child development in the environment."

According to study senior author Brenda Eskenazi, the past five or seven years have seen a number of studies looking at low-dose organophosphate exposure in children's neurodevelopment. Prior to this, researchers' interest had concentrated on high-dose exposure.

Now, including this study, three studies have now found effects of low-dose exposure on neurodevelopment, including one earlier this year that found that exposure to high levels of organophosphate pesticides could raise the odds for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The current findings were based on attention tests given to more than 300 children of Mexican American farm workers in the Salinas Valley of California. The researchers also took measures of organophosphate metabolites in the mothe
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