** Common Pesticide (deltamethrin) found to increase child's risk of ADHD
** Deltamethrin, considered a less toxic pesticide, is widely used in vegetable crops, golfing greens, lawns, gardens and other areas in the home
** Pregnant women and young children may be more vulnerable to pesticide exposure as the chemicals are not metabolized as readily by their systems
** Reduction of 3 most common forms of pesticide exposure (air, water, and food) reenforced by scientists
A common pesticide that is widely used to control both agricultural and household pests may impair the development and functioning of the area of the brain that controls cognition and emotional expression, increasing a child's risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a study recently published online in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB).
The study, led by researchers from Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, assisted by a research team from Wake Forest University, Emory University, and the University of Rochester Medical School, found that developing mice that were exposed to deltamethrin -- a pyrethroid pesticide -- in the mother's womb or when lactating following birth, showed signs associated with ADHD such as hyperactivity, impulsive behavior, attention deficits, and impaired dopamine signaling within the brain.
According to lead author of the study, Jason Richardson, who is an associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at Rutgers, the results strongly support the notion that pyrethroid pesticides such as deltamethrin, which is considered a less toxic pesticide that is widely used to control pests in vegetable crops, golfing greens, lawns, gardens and other areas in the home, need to be considered a risk factor for ADHD.
"Although we can't change genetic susceptibility to ADHD, there may be modifiable environmental factors, including exposures to pesticides that we should be examining in more detail," says Richardson.
ADHD is a common behavioral disorder that mostly affects children. Figures for 2011 show that approximately 6.4 million children (11%) of children aged between 4-17 have been diagnosed with the disorder, with boys being 3-4 times more susceptible than girls. Young children aged between 3-6 may exhibit symptoms such as being unable to sit still, focus or follow instructions, but diagnoses are typically made once children begin school, when these behavioral traits become more apparent.
The results of this study showed that female mice were less affected than male mice, echoing the trend observed children affected with ADHD. The ADHD symptomatic behavior observed in the mice persisted through adulthood even after the pesticide was no longer present in their bodies.
Scientific research suggests that genetics play a key role in determining a child's susceptibility to ADHD, however to date no scientists have not identified a specific gene responsible for the disorder, leading scientists to believe that exposure to certain environmental triggers contribute greatly to the development of ADHD in children.
Study Background - Who's Most Vulnerable
For this study, the researchers used data gleaned from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) and from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to analyze urine samples and questionnaires related to health-care of 2,123 children and teenagers. Parents were asked whether their children had ever been diagnosed with ADHD by a physician, checking the prescription medication history for each child to determine if any medication commonly prescribed for ADHD had been prescribed. They found that children whose urine samples had high levels of pyrethroid pesticide metabolites present were at least twice as likely to have been diagnosed with the disorder.
The researchers believe that pregnant women and young children may be more vulnerable to pesticide exposure as the chemicals are not metabolized as readily by their systems. They believe that studies need to be conducted on human subjects to assess the effects of pesticide exposure on the developing fetus and on developing young children.
"We need to make sure these pesticides are being used correctly and not unduly expose those who may be at a higher risk," Richardson says.
We are exposed to pesticides in the air we breathe, in the foods we eat, and in the water we drink. Pesticides enter surface water systems through runoff and can percolate through soils to contaminate groundwater supplies. To eliminate pesticides from your drinking water, we'd recommend investment in a good quality drinking water filter such as a Berkey that is capable of removing pesticides to high degrees.
J. R. Richardson, M. M. Taylor, S. L. Shalat, T. S. Guillot, W. M. Caudle, M. M. Hossain, T. A. Mathews, S. R. Jones, D. A. Cory-Slechta, G. W. Miller. Developmental pesticide exposure reproduces features of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The FASEB Journal, 2015; DOI: 10.1096/fj.14-260901