Pesticides – Effects on Children

Our children seemingly have chronic exposure to pesticides from the womb to the grave.  Over a lifetime, with approximately 4.5 billion pounds of chemicals applied annually to crops, buildings and lawns in the United States, is it any wonder chronic illness in on the rise?  Reports of 50% intake of pesticide exposure occur within the first five years of life.
Additionally, some tests indicate vulnerability to pesticide up to three months before pregnancy and the first month after conception.  As if this isn’t enough, many pesticides detoxify through mother’s milk either as pesticides or their metabolites because the milks fat content causes the solubility of the toxin.  The developing brain and central nervous system have pronounced vulnerability to neurotoxicants such as lead, mercury, alcohol, other than pesticides and causes reason for concern.
While the overall use of pesticides decreased 17.2 % from 1979 to 1997,  that has little affect on children 6 years and younger who are much more susceptible to pesticide toxicity because they eat more, drink more and breathe more per body weight.  Children are physiologically different than adults because they grow rapidly requiring more energy Their activities of ground playing and water activities put them at greater risk for heavier exposure to pesticides in water, soil, and air.
Multiple pesticides may be present at the same time in mother’s milk and consequences may include altered social skills, decreased intelligence, and reproductive difficulties or failures.  Thyroid function in pregnant women is a critical determinate in IQ and some persistent pesticides such as polychlorinated biphenols and dioxins disrupt thyroid function.  In animal models studies have shown a variety of pesticies such as DDT/DDE, mirex, aldrin, dieldrin, atrazine, dieldrin, atrazine, hexachlorocyclobexane, toxaphene, alachlor, chlordane, vincloxolin and chlorphyrifos can interfere with estrogen androgen and thyroid receptors during critical periods of development.  Additionally, pesticides can affect neurotransmitter metabolism and electrophysiological actions. 

It’s important that we learn how to protect our kids and because certain pesticides such as DDT and DDE have a half-life of about 150 years in aquatic environments, seafood may be one of the easiest exposures to avoid.   Getting a child use to a good distilled fish oil high is DHA early in life is probably one of the best things you could do as it mobilizes many pesticide toxins out of the body but is also great for brain development, skin and liver function. 

Today there are sophisticated tests for pesticide residue of all kinds, which require a simple blood draw shipped to the laboratory.

Center for Environmental Medicine






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