Pesticides on produce and ADHD…is there a link?

The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics recently published a study that indicated kids with higher levels of pesticide byproduct concentrations in their urine were more likely to have ADHD.  

Taking urine samples from 1139 children and interviewing their parents about ADHD symptoms and treatments, they determined that those with the highest levels of organophosphate metabolites were about 1.5 to 2 times as likely to have ADHD.   Does this mean that your kids should stop eating broccoli and start noshing on fries?  Not quite.  

First, this is simply a cross-sectional study, done at one point of time with one sample per child, so they cannot really claim that pesticides cause ADHD…yet.  And lastly, nobody can prove that it was eating produce that caused the increased exposure to organophosphates.   The authors suggest that prospective studies be done to determine whether it is causal or simply a correlation.  However, this study was very well-done, with a large sample group and ruling out of many other potentially confounding factors such as age, ethnicity, SES,  and gender. 

What’s a parent to do?  

First, take a deep breath.  America still has some of the healthiest kids in the world, and we are fortunate to have such a safe, consistent food supply.  Keep eating your 5 a day of fruits and veggies, and keep your mind at ease by following the steps below:

1) wash your fruits and veggies with lots of water. 

2)  remember that USDA-certified organic produce does not use these types of pesticides 

3) check out the EWG’s list of most and least contaminated produce to determine what is most likely to have pesticide residue.  I know we can’t all afford to buy 100% produce and eat lots of it, this website gives great info on where to prioritize your organic dollar.

Want to read more but can’t handle the whole article in JAAP?  Check on this article from the Washington Post:

, or click here for more information on how safety levels are set for pesticides.


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