Children exposed to chemicals used on crops and in household products could have a higher risk of attention-deficit disorder, according to U.S research.
Researchers tracked pesticide breakdown products in children' urine and found those with high levels were almost twice as likely to develop ADHD as those with undetectable levels. The findings were based on data from the general population, meaning that exposure to the pesticides could be harmful even at levels commonly found in children's environment.
'There is growing concern that these pesticides may be related to ADHD,' said study researcher Marc Weisskopf from Harvard. 'What this paper specifically highlights is that this may be true even at low concentrations.'
The study focuses on organophosphates, which were originally developed for chemical warfare and are known to be toxic to the nervous system. There are about 40 organophosphate pesticides such as malathion registered in the United States, the researchers wrote in the journal Pediatrics. UK farmers and growers regularly use OPs.
Mr Weisskopf said the compounds have been linked to behavioral symptoms common to ADHD - for instance, impulsivity and attention problems - but exactly how is not fully understood.