April 21st, 2011
Pesticide Exposure Tied To Lower IQs

A University of California at Berkeley study found that prenatal exposure to pesticides leads to lower IQs in babies. The study found that the use of popular organophosphate pesticides leads to lower IQ in children tested at age 7, more from the school’s release:

The researchers found that every tenfold increase in measures of organophosphates detected during a mother’s pregnancy corresponded to a 5.5 point drop in overall IQ scores in the 7-year-olds. Children in the study 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.

“These associations are substantial, especially when viewing this at a population-wide level,” said study principal investigator Brenda Eskenazi, UC Berkeley professor of epidemiology and of maternal and child health. “That difference could mean, on average, more kids being shifted into the lower end of the spectrum of learning, and more kids needing special services in school.”

There’s tons more information about the study here, but what I think is important to note is the fact that the majority of the people who will be affected by this are poor, and probably most are Latino. Think about it: who’s going to be out in a field when they’re dusted with pesticides?

Having lived in rural communities, I can say for a fact that when agriculture is a way of life the entire community takes part in the pros and cons of that — which includes pesticides. But at least in my experience of living in a rural Northern California community, even though most farmers were white, a lot of the workers were Latino. Which brings me to my roundabout point: most of the kids suffering from low IQs because of pesticide exposure are bound to be Latino.

Public health is a big issue, but when it affects children on such an important issue as their IQ, it should be a big issue to all of us. Thanks to Daniel for the tip!

Follow Sara Inés Calderón on Twitter @SaraChicaD

[Photo By Walmart Stores]

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