Children exposed to higher levels of pesticide found on commercially grown fruit and vegetables in the United States were more likely to have attention deficit/hyper-activity disorder (ADHD), according to a study published on Monday.
Researchers in the United States and Canada studied data from 1139 children aged between eight and 15 and found children with higher residue levels of pesticides known as organophosphates were roughly twice as likely to have ADHD, the study in the journal Pediatrics found.
“The present study adds to the accumulating evidence linking higher levels of pesticide exposure to adverse developmental outcomes,” the study concluded.
Roughly 40 organophosphate pesticides are registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency for use in the United States, and about 33.11 million kg of the pesticides were used in agricultural and residential settings in 2001, figures cited in the study said.
Although residential pesticide use is common, the National Academy of Sciences found that the major source of exposure for infants and children comes through the diet, the study added.
According to a 2008 report cited by the study, detectable levels of pesticides were found in a range of vegetables. A sample of produce tested found 28 per cent of frozen blueberries, 20 per cent of celery and 25 per cent of strawberries contained traces of one organophospate, know as malathion.
Other types of pesticides were found in 27 per cent of green beans, 17 per cent of peaches, and eight per cent of broccoli.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 4.5 million children aged between five and 17 had been diagnosed with ADHD up to 2006. Between three and seven per cent of school-aged children in the United States suffer from the condition, figures show.