Pesticides inhibit proper childhood development

Thursday, February 10, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: pesticides, children, health news

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(NaturalNews) Mothers exposed to high levels of pesticides bear children with lower intelligence levels than children born to mothers not exposed, says a new study published online in the journal Pediatrics. Piperonyl butoxide (PBO), a common chemical used in thousands of household insecticides to boost the effectiveness of another chemical known as pyrethroid, delays childhood development and causes brain damage.

Megan Horton, a postdoctoral research fellow from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, and her team tracked 348 mothers from around New York City for their study. They took both air and blood samples of the women to track their exposure to PBO, and compared the intelligence levels of children from each exposure grouping. Based on this assessment, the team observed a significant connection between high levels of PBO exposure and delayed development in children.

"Kids who were in the highest quartile range of exposure to PBO were three times as likely to be in the delayed category, compared to kids with lower exposure," said Horton, noting that the research took into account other factors that may affect development, including exposure to tobacco.

Pyrethroid insecticides have largely taken the place of organophosphorus (OP) insecticides, which were used more widely in the past but are now known to cause serious nerve damage and other problems in birds and mammals. But based on the evidence, pyrethroids are not much better as they cause significant harm to both children and adults.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pyrethroids are used in over 3,500 registered insecticide products. Known side effects caused by exposure include breathing problems, chest pains, rashes, blisters, endocrine disruption, reproductive problems, learning disorders, chromosome damage, blood abnormalities, and thyroid problems.

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