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Prenatal exposure to common insecticide linked to decreases in cognitive functioning at age 7
Date:4/20/2011

cted from babies. They also reported that the amount of chlorpyrifos in babies' blood was associated with neurodevelopmental problems at age three. The new findings suggest that the relationship between prenatal chlorpyrifos exposure and neurodevelopmental deficits among cohort children persists through age seven, with possible longer-term educational implications.

"These observed deficits in cognitive functioning at 7 years of age could have implications for school performance," noted Virginia Rauh, ScD, deputy director of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health (CCCEH), and lead author of the study. "Working memory problems may interfere with reading comprehension, learning and academic achievement, even if general intelligence remains in the normal range."

The good news, reports Robin Whyatt, DrPH, senior author on the paper, is that since the EPA ban took effect, exposure to the organophosphate has measurably declined. CCCEH scientists have found a 3-fold decrease in chlorpyrifos levels in personal and indoor air samples in the cohort and a more than 5-fold decrease in blood levels.

"However, agricultural use of chlorpyrifos is still permitted in the U.S.," says Dr. Whyatt, professor of Clinical Environmental Health Sciences and deputy director of CCCEH. "It is vitally important that we continue to monitor the levels of exposure in potentially vulnerable populations, especially in pregnant women in agricultural communities, as their infants may continue to be at risk."

Also published in Environmental Health Perspectives today, two other NIEHS/EPA funded Children's Environmental Health Centers present independent investigations of organophosphate pesticides and neurodevelopment. Although findings cannot be directly compared, these studies also found early cognitive and behavioral effects associated with prenatal organophosphate exposure.


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Contact: Stephanie Berger
sb2247@columbia.edu
212-305-4372
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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