According to a recent report released by Environmental Health Perspectives, yet another research study has demonstrated a clear link between pesticide exposure and increased risk of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Multiple studies indicate that the greater the pesticide intake, the greater the risk of experiencing ADHD.
Researchers don’t know exactly what causes ADHD. These research studies showing the link between ADHD and pesticide exposure demonstrate a relationship but not necessarily a causal relationship. However, it seems wise for everyone to avoid as much pesticide exposure as possible, and most especially for pregnant women and growing children. Here’s what you can do reduce the risk of pesticide related ADHD in your family.
Most Crucial Time to Avoid Pesticide Exposure
While ADHD might not be diagnosed or even noticed until your child enters school, the greatest damage can be done while the child is in the womb. This means that avoiding prenatal pesticide exposure (not consuming or using pesticides while pregnant) is of utmost importance.
ADHD Risk Reduction Strategy: Buy Organic Produce
To reduce ADHD risk, whenever possible buy organic produce. If you cannot afford all organic produce, at least buy organic versions of the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen (read more about the 12 most pesticide laden fruits and vegetables here). Organic produce is grown without harmful pesticides.
ADHD Risk Reduction Strategy: Wash All Produce Thoroughly
The thorough washing of produce is particularly important for conventionally grown (non organic) fruits and vegetables if you want to reduce ADHD risk, but I recommend washing all produce prior to eating it for general food safety reasons (see this article for more information).
ADHD Risk Reduction Strategy: Use Integrative Pest Management Techniques
In addition to eliminating pesticides from our diets, it’s also important to reduce as many pesticides from our environment as possible if we want to reduce our risk of ADHD. Try to eliminate household and garden pests using natural methods (also called integrative pest management techniques) instead of pesticides. Your county or local college may have a free program offering advice on these techniques. The EPA also publishes a great explanation of these environmentally friendly pest management methods that’s available here.
ADHD Risk Reduction Strategy: Choose the Clean Fifteen
The Environmental Working Group’s Clean Fifteen are the conventionally grown fruits and vegetables with the least amount of pesticide residue. This means that you and your child will be exposed to fewer pesticides just by choosing from this list. Lower pesticide exposure could mean a reduced risk of ADHD.
ADHD Risk Reduction Strategy: Buy Produce Locally
Locally grown produce is less likely than foreign produce to be riddled with pesticides. If you’re buying at a farmer’s market ask if they use pesticides and if so, what kind. Organophosphate pesticides appear to present the highest ADHD risk so you definitely want to avoid those if you want to reduce ADHD risk.
ADHD Risk Reduction Strategy: Grow Your Own Organic Produce
If you have the room and time this is a great option. Your kids may even join in the process and learn a lot about nature at the same time. It’s very rewarding to grow your own vegetables and fruits. Be sure to use integrative pest management techniques instead of pesticides should your garden need that kind of attention.
Our family’s health is priceless and precious. Any extra cost or time spent is likely to be well worth the reduced chances of experiencing ADHD.