Prenatal pesticide exposure tied to lower IQApril 21st, 2011 - 3:52 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, April 21 (IANS) Prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides, widely used on food crops, is related to lower intelligence scores at age seven.
Researchers from the School of Public Health, University of California-Berkeley, found that every 10-fold increase in measures of organophosphates detected during a mother’s pregnancy corresponded to a 5.5 point drop in overall IQ scores in seven year olds.
Organophosphates (OP) are a class of pesticides that are well-known neurotoxicants, toxic substances that cause neurological (brain and nerve) damage through ingestion, injection and cutaneous application.
Indoor use of chlorpyrifos and diazinon, two common OP pesticides, has been phased out over the past decade, primarily because of health risks to children, the journal Environmental Health Perspectives reports.
Children with the highest levels of prenatal pesticide exposure scored seven points lower on a standardized measure of intelligence compared with children who had the lowest levels of exposure, according to a statement.
“These associations are substantial, especially when viewing this at a population-wide level,” said study principal investigator Brenda Eskenazi, professor of epidemiology and of maternal and child health at the school.
“That difference could mean, on an average, more kids being shifted into the lower end of the spectrum of learning, and more kids needing special services in school.”
The UC Berkeley study is among a trio of papers showing an association between pesticide exposure and childhood IQ.
Notably, the other two studies - one at Mt. Sinai Medical Centre, the other at Columbia University - examined urban populations in New York City, while the UC Berkeley study focused on children living in Salinas, an agricultural centre in California.
The 329 children in the Berkeley study had been followed from before birth as part of the Centre for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (Chamacos), an ongoing longitudinal study led by Eskenazi.
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Tags: agricultural centre, berkeley study, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, environmental health perspectives, food crops, health assessment, intelligence scores, iq scores, maternal and child health, nerve damage, organophosphates, pesticide exposure, prenatal exposure, public health university, school of public health, sinai medical, uc berkeley, university of california berkeley, urban populations