Exposure to even low levels of organophosphate pesticides in pregnant women can impart significant and lasting effects upon a child’s IQ and cognitive development (i.e. poor attention skills, hyperactive behavior, and declining mental development). Organophosphates are neurotoxic. They are used in agriculture and home products to eliminate insects (insecticides), weeds (herbicides), fungi (fungicides), and rodents (rodenticides). Research points to diet as the primary route of exposure.
But levels of exposure currently regarded as safe have been called into question due to the adverse effects these chemicals have been shown to have on general well-being, fertility, and the potential for lasting metabolic disruption in children during prenatal exposure.
Organophosphates are known to cross transplacentally to the child and multiple, world-wide studies have correlated the risk of in-utero exposures to negative health outcomes. Results of data collected from a nationally representative sample of US children from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) showed that increased exposure to organophosphates increased the odds of being diagnosed with ADHD. These findings also suggested that prenatal exposure alone is largely responsible for IQ decline.
Until protection increases through public health channels, it is advisable for all, but especially pregnant women, to avoid exposure to these chemicals especially around the home and through eating a diet that is organic or pesticide-free. Additionally, detoxification techniques which include multi-nutrient support, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, can make an impact. After birth, feeding children organic foods also can make an impact since children who regularly consumed organic (vs. conventional) foods reduced their exposure level from above to below the EPA’s current guidelines.