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Hundreds of Children Exposed to Pesticide in US

lasts seven months, from March through September. When citrus trees blossom and grapevines climb trellises, parents despair that their children do not come home with her eyes watering and head pounding, unable to breathe.

As suburbs push close to farmland, the rate of pesticide poisoning among children nationwide has risen in recent years, according to a 2005 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study found that 40 percent of all children sickened by pesticides at school were victims of drift pesticide carried on the breeze.

Research on pregnant women exposed to common pesticides has suggested higher rates of premature birth, and poor neurological development and smaller head circumferences among their babies.

The effects on children of small, repeated exposures over a long period of time are unclear, said University of California, Berkeley epidemiologist Brenda Eskenazi.

But acute pesticide poisoning can cause nausea, blurred vision, an abnormally fast heart rate, paralysis and death.

Chrissy Garavito, a 15-year-old high school sophomore, died in Fontana in 1997 of a heart rhythm disturbance her mother believes was triggered by exposure to chemicals sprayed at the school. Authorities never confirmed that pesticides contributed to her death.

In 2001, pesticide poisoning nearly killed Elena Dominguez, then a sixth-grader in Wenatchee, Wash.

One day, after playing Frisbee during gym class across the street from an apple orchard, she passed out at her desk.

Emergency room doctors dismissed Elena's abnormally fast heart rate as a symptom of dehydration, gave her intravenous fluids and sent her home. Three weeks later, it happened again.

"I was at a track meet and all of a sudden I felt really, really tired," said Elena, now 18. "I made it to the finish line and just fell over."

Investigators found her clothes were soaked in the pest
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