Pesticides Cause ADHD? What??

ADHD is caused by pesticides? What's the real story?

Posted May 20, 2010

Recently a study published in the journal Pediatrics found a possible correlation between pesticides and ADHD. Out of the 1,139 children in the study (ADHD and non-ADHD), 94 percent were found to have some levels of organophosphate (pesticide) compound in their urine. Out of the children with an above-average level of the compound, 20 percent had ADHD. The rate of ADHD was 10 percent in children who had no level of the compound. This study has caused some concern among parents and others in the ADHD community. However, before we all start buying 100% organic everything, we need to take a closer look at the study.

The metholodology, or the way the study was conducted, should be examined. Organophosphate compound levels were measured by a one-time urine sample. In addition, the children's diets were not examined. We're not really sure how much organic (or non-organic) food each child consumed. In a "perfect" world, the diets of the children would be detailed thoroughly, with one group of children consuming foods with virtually no pesticides. There would also be repeated urine samples. However, it is impossible to not consume some pesticide. Pesticides aren't just in food - they can even be found in the air. (No one stop breathing on me here!)

It is possible that children with ADHD may be eating just the same foods as non-ADHD children, but have more difficulty breaking down the organophosphate compounds. It is also possible that because families with ADHD tend to have a lower income, they cannot afford to buy untreated or organic foods. But again, we are not aware of what foods were consumed by the children in the study sample.

As for the concern that 94 percent of children had some level of organophosphate in their urine, everything you consume does impact your body. However, as mentioned before, organic food is prohibitively expensive for many families, and eating only organic foods does not totally eliminate your exposure to pesticides.

Instead of looking at whether ADHD was possibly caused by organophosphates, we instead should work to make organic food more accessible to everyone, at a price more families can afford. Not only that, we should also become more aware of the chemicals we are consuming, and call for further and more thorough testing on the impact of pesticides on the human body. We need to take a long, hard look at what would happen if there was a total discontinuation of pesticide use - do the risks of stopping pesticides outweigh the benefits, or vice versa?

As featured on New Harbinger Publication Inc.'s blog, "Off the Couch":