Study links prenatal pesticide exposure with higher risk of attention disorder in kids

09:36, August 20, 2010      

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Children exposed to organophosphate pesticides while in the womb may be more likely to suffer attention disorder later in life, a new study suggests.

Researchers from California based their findings 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 mothers' urine and collected behavioral reports from the mothers and from professional observers.

The findings showed that although there was only a small link between attention problems and exposure at the age of three, the association became significantly larger at age 5, especially among boys.

"We saw that the children were making more errors on the test and that it was significantly related to the mother's prenatal metabolite levels for these pesticides," said lead researcher Brenda Eskenazi, who is director of the Center for Children's Environmental Health Research at the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health.

It bears noting that these children had much higher exposure levels than the "average" kid, Eskenazi said.

"Children don't have the level of an enzyme needed to metabolize these organophosphates the same as adults until they're much older than we expected," said Eskenazi. "Their metabolism is different, and now we have hard evidence of that."

There's also "suggestive evidence" that some children may harbor genetic variations that make them more susceptible to the neurocognitive effects of pesticides, according to the study appearing in the Aug. 19 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.

The findings conform with previous studies which also found that exposure to high levels of organophosphate pesticides could raise the odds for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:王千原雪)

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