Babies who are exposed to high levels of pesticides during gestation have lower I.Q. scores than their peers by the time they reach school age, reports the New York Times.
Three new studies, financed by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the federal Environmental Protection Agency and based on data collected from about 1,000 pregnant women and their babies in New York and California, were published online last week in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The studies examined the impact of common pesticides called organophosphates, which are often sprayed on food crops as well as used to control cockroaches and other creepy crawlies in urban dwellings.
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The studies began about 10 years ago when pregnant women were recruited to give blood and urine samples used to measure pesticide exposure. Following their birth, the children were then monitored by researchers and gave regular urine samples to help measure exposure to pesticides. Generally speaking, the studies found that the children of moms who had higher exposures to pesticides during pregnancy had lower I.Q. scores as of age 7. One study in particular found that for every 10-fold increase in organophosphate exposure measured during pregnancy, those children dropped 5.5 points in overall I.Q. scores.
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Wondering what you can do to minimize your exposure to pesticides like organophosphates? The Times suggests that buying organic fruits and veggies, especially during pregnancy, may help, as well as thorough washing and peeling of conventionally grown produce. A handy shopping guide to the most and least pesticide-contaminated fruits and veggies can be downloaded as a PDF or an iPhone app, courtesy of the Environmental Working Group.
Did you make an effort to avoid ingesting pesticides during your pregnancy?