Pesticides Tied to ADHD in Children

Wash Produce Thoroughly

If you didn’t think buying organic to avoid pesticides was important you might now.

Children exposed to pesticides could have a higher risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a study supported by a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The study concludes American’s should always wash produce thoroughly.
Researchers tracked the pesticides’ breakdown products in children’ urine and found those with high levels were almost twice as likely to develop ADHD as those with undetectable levels.
The findings are based on data from the general U.S. population, meaning that exposure to the pesticides could be harmful even at levels commonly found in children’s environment.
There are about 40 organophosphate pesticides such as malathion registered in the United States, the researchers wrote in the journal Pediatrics.
The study included 1,139 children between 8- and 15-years-old. The study found the odds of having ADHD rose with the level of pesticide breakdown products.

For a 10-fold increase in one class of those compounds, the odds of ADHD increased by more than half. And for the most common breakdown product, called dimethyl triophosphate, the odds of ADHD almost doubled in kids with above-average levels compared to those without detectable levels.

What can you do? Wash produce. Consider buying organic. Click here to see a shopper’s guide to pesticides.

Do you buy organic produce for the family you work for?


  1. My son has ADHD… I'm not sure how conclusive this study is though… only 1100 subjects on one sample each… however you should always wash your produce well… we have a saying in the food business about produce… "the last person who touched that didn't wash their hands after they went to the bathroom"… the thought of that tends to prompt the washing of produce in our house…Jackie K

  2. I am studying environmental studies in college and work as a live in nanny. My nanny Dad Boss is a doctor and keeps saying that there is no proof that chemicals like pesticides cause any problems. He's always saying there's no proof these chemicals are harmful. Well, it seems to me that studies like this are making us pay attention as their results are leaning towards pesticides are dangerous. Just because the studies aren't complete doesn't mean that common sense tells us pesticides aren't good for us. Also, my Dad Boss is a gastroenterologist (not really expert in ADHD). But, even though this study doesn't PROVE buying and eating organic is worth the added expense the rise in autism, asthma, skin conditions, and allergies all lead to the obvious theory that all the new chemicals (including pesticides) introduced to our environment in the last century are causing health problems. Of course Jackie many other factors may effect ADHD. Washing fruits and veggies certainly can't hurt! I think Jackie's image is a great to way to remind us to wash our produce. But, thinking of sprayed on poisons on produce is even scarier than dirty hands! I cringe about pesticides but I also use bug repellent at times to protect myself and the children against mosquitos and ticks. Obvously bug repellent isn't good for children either. I think scrubbing produce with liquid dish soap to should be sufficient to wash pesticides and dirty hands off of produce.

  3. Is anyone really surprised that stuff used to KILL a living thing could do damage to the human body especially that of little kids. So much stuff in the world today is making our kids sicker and sicker but yet it still continues on. I am so tired of all the food dyes (which may cause ADHD problems) and chemicals and hormones in the food. We can't all afford to buy expensive organics all the time plus they spoil so quickly. But, we can't afford to pay for all the healthcare problems caused by the poisoned food either.Amber G

  4. At my job we use special cleanser for produce you can buy in the produce dept. For myself I typcially just wash with dish soap.

  5. It seems obvious even before more studies that pesticides should never be ingested!! Commons sense people. The problem I also see is regulation. What does organic really mean?Why aren't there more studies on this most important topic? Could it be agricultural farm lobby controlling government funding of preliminary studies skewing away from pesticide testing in children. Is there any more important topic then what we feed children? It's sick that the government throws billions at Wallstreet and the banks, but can't fund research into something so obviously wide-ranging and debilitating effecting our kids!Reyna H NY

  6. Washing helps remove SOME pesticide residue, as does peeling. But the only way to avoid pesticide residue on foods is to buy organic versions of foods that, when not grown organically, are most likely to be grown using pesticides. These include celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, and blueberries. Corn, peas, and asparagus are usually low in pesticide residue, even when grown conventionally. The Environmental Working Group, an environmental advocacy group, has compiled a list of pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables that includes a clip-out guide for shopping. I think it's what you have linked in your article. Thanks for great posts BTBN newsletter!

  7. We can do our part but the producers of pesticides should soon come up with a better alternatives. By the way, this medical administration company might interest and help you in some ways. More power!

  8. We are always trying to blame everything for autism. Obviously children should not be around or ingest pesticides. But, diet will not treat autism.

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