Monday, May 17, 2010

ADHD Linked to Pesticides

I remember, years ago, a coworker told me a story about her daughter. When the girl was a baby, she was always crying and as she got a little older, her behavior got worse. The mother was sure something was wrong because her older child had never had any problems.

This mother had taken the girl to several different doctors, but they found nothing. Finally, she started her own experiment to discover a solution. Mom suspected the problem was in the food she was giving her. First, she went organic. That helped, but didn't completely solve the problem. The entire family was already vegetarian, so that was take care of. Next she started eliminating foods. She soon discovered that when she eliminated dairy products, the girl's behavior improved, and when she eliminated wheat products, all the bad behaviors went away.

Now, what the mother did was not scientific, but as long as her daughter avoided dairy and wheat, the child was well-behaved and eventually excelled in school and has become an extremely successful adult.

Several times during my teaching career, I heard similar stories. Most of them involved parents using special diets to help control behavior.

It's not surprising to me, then, that a scientific study has linked ADHD with exposure to pesticides found in fruits and vegetables. The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, tested the urine of over 1100 children for organophosphates, and found that those with higher levels were twice as likely to exhibit symptoms of ADHD.

Organophosphates are designed to affect the nervous systems of pests, and it appears that they may be having an affect on humans, also.

Unfortunately, children need fruits and vegetables, so experts have some recommendations. These include eating organic whenever possible. Eat produce in season and choose items that are locally grown because even if these aren't organic, they tend to have lower pesticide levels. It's also a good idea to wash all produce and peel any fruits or vegetables that can be peeled. A varied diet can also help.

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