(NaturalNews) Exposure to pesticides may be one of the causes of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a study conducted by researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and published in the Journal of Pediatrics.
"It's consistent with other studies that have looked at organophosphate pesticides and have found that exposure of children to organophosphates in early life can cause brain injury," researcher Philip Landrigan said. "This study builds on those other studies."
The researchers analyzed urine samples from more than 1,000 children between the ages of 8 and 15 for the presence of several different pesticides, including at least one commonly used on fruits and vegetables. They found that children with higher concentrations of pesticides in their bodies were significantly more likely to suffer from ADHD than children with lower concentrations.
ADHD is marked by inattentiveness, hyperactivity and poor impulse and behavioral control. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.5 million children in the United States suffer from some form of the disorder.
Although the study was only designed to look for correlation and not for cause, prior research has shown that pesticides in tiny amounts can change the chemistry of children's brains. According to the researchers, this can interfere with thinking, communication and behavior.
"The next step is we need to do a prospective study, a study that measures pesticide exposure very early in life ... then follow the children over five, six, seven years and see if the early exposure actually causes the disease," Landrigan said.
Parents seeking to limit their children's exposure to pesticides are advised to limit or eliminate all household or garden use of pesticides, including poisons such as bug sprays and garden insecticides, herbicides and fungicides. Another way to reduce pesticide exposure is to buy organic produce whenever possible. Among non-organic fruits, the safest are those that can be peeled or have a hard skin that can be washed, such as apples. The highest pesticide residues are typically found in soft-skinned fruits such as strawberries and peaches.