Worse Than Zika? Farming Chemicals Tied to Developmental Delays and Decreased Head Circumference in Newborns
They checked the levels of the relevant metabolites in the urine of pregnant women and their children once they reached two years of age, and also checked the children’s neurodevelopment using the Gesell Developmental Schedules.
They found an adverse association between the children’s head circumferences at birth and the mothers’ OP exposure levels. In addition, prenatal and postnatal exposure to OPs was strongly associated with a higher risk of developmental delays. This effect was only seen in boys.
The conclusion of the study, which is slated to be published in Environmental Health Perspectives, states: “Both prenatal and postnatal OP exposure may adversely affect the neurodevelopment of infants living in the agricultural area. The present study added to the accumulating evidence on associations of prenatal and postnatal OP exposure with infant neurodevelopment.”
A previous study in the same journal by scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, revealed that children younger than seven do not have enough of the enzymes needed to detoxify pesticides. Even older children are around five times more susceptible to the dangers of OPs than adults. When combined with their higher breathing rates, smaller bodies and tendency to play on the ground or crawl, the dangers are clear.
Organophosphates bear an uncanny resemblance to chemical agents that were produced during WWII, and the CDC has classified them as a “probable human carcinogen.”
Their extreme toxicity was illustrated in 2013, when 25 schoolchildren died in India after eating a lunch laced with organophosphates.
OPs commonly used on crops
Organophosphates are used on crops such as apples, pears, peaches, grapes, green beans and corn, among others. Organophosphorus compounds are also used in pest control products for buildings and pets.
These chemicals are typically sprayed on plants and crops, and from there, they can travel into water and soil. They can contaminate groundwater fairly easily, particularly when it rains, which is why the children of farm workers are quite vulnerable to its ill effects.
These pesticides are so dangerous because they overstimulate the nervous systems of humans and insects alike, causing seizures and even death. They can lead to behavioral problems as well as cognitive and developmental issues. They can also reduce testosterone and adversely affect male fertility. Exposure to this chemical has even been linked to leukemia and lymphoma.
Switching to organic produce vital for children
One way to reduce the risk of OP exposure is to switch to organic food. A study from the University of Washington discovered that kids who ate mostly organic fruit and juice had just a sixth of the OP byproduct levels in their urine that their peers who consumed non-organic produce and juice had.
In fact, switching to organic produce can turn health around rather quickly in the case of children, as a study out of Emory University showed. Assistant Researcher, Dr. Lu, of Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health said, “Immediately after substituting organic food items for the children’s normal diets, the concentration of the organophosphorus pesticides found in their bodies decreased substantially to non-detectable levels until the conventional diets were re-introduced.”
This study is further evidence that it is simply too risky to blindly eat whatever food your grocery store is pushing on you, without researching its origins and ingredients very carefully.
People who want to give their food sources a closer look can check out the upcoming book Food Forensics by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger. This eye-opening book takes a look at the pesticides and other chemicals used on crops so that readers can make healthier choices.