UMontreal.ca – Exposure to organophosphate pesticides at relatively common levels is associated with increased risk of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children, according to a team of scientists from the University of Montreal and Harvard University.

Published in the journal Pediatrics, the investigation found a connection between exposure to pesticides and the presence of symptoms of ADHD. The study focused on 1,139 children from the general U.S. population and measured pesticide levels in their urine. The authors conclude that exposure to organophosphate pesticides, at levels common among U.S. children, may contribute to a diagnosis of ADHD.

“Previous studies have shown that exposure to some organophosphate compounds cause hyperactivity and cognitive deficits in animals,” says lead author Maryse F. Bouchard of the University of Montreal Department of Environmental and Occupational Health and the Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Center. “Our study found that exposure to organophosphates in developing children might have effects on neural systems and could contribute to ADHD behaviors, such as inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.”

The abstract and full text of this study in PDF form are available free online here:

Organophosphate pesticide exposure in children and ADHD risk

Reference: Bouchard, Maryse, et al. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Urinary Metabolites of Organophosphate Pesticides. PEDIATRICS (doi:10.1542/peds.2009-3058) Published online May 17, 2010.

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