Exposure to pesticides used on berries, celery and other fruits and vegetables could raise the risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in youngsters. This report, published in the June, 2010, issue of Pediatrics, suggests that the commercial use of organophosphates could be related to rising rates of ADHD. The investigators analyzed data on pesticide exposure and ADHD in more than 1,100 boys and girls between the ages of eight and 15. They learned that youngsters who had higher pesticide levels in their urine were more likely to have ADHD and that the higher the levels of these chemicals, the higher the risk. The investigators noted that earlier studies have shown an association between exposure to organophosphates and developmental problems. Those studies saw links to ADHD among babies who were exposed to pesticides in the womb as well as after they were born. The research team didn't suggest that kids avoid fruits and vegetables but that parents might help safeguard their children's health by seeking out organic produce, buying at farmers' markets and washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly at home.
My take? I'm not at all surprised by these findings. My colleague, Sandy Newmark, M.D., a California-based pediatrician and member of the faculty at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, has just published an impressive book¸ ADHD Without Drugs, which delves into the causes of the rising rate of this disorder among children. In discussing the causes, he notes that from the moment of conception exposure to damaging environmental toxins has increased dramatically in the past 40 years and that a number of studies have implicated industrial pollutants as a factor in the rising rates of ADHD as well as learning disabilities. I highly recommend Dr. Newmark's book to any parent dealing with this diagnosis.
Learn which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide contamination and should always be bought organic by watching my video on the Environmental Working Group's Shopping Guide.