A recent study has hinted that children who are caused to experience organophosphate (any organic compound that contains phosphorus and often has potent neuro-toxic actions) bug killers when they are yet to be born or still in their mother's wombs have a greater possibility of demonstrating concentration and behavioural problems by the time they are old enough to attend nursery school. Moreover, the research undertaken by scientists at the University of California located in Berkeley discovered that the exposure of the parents to organophosphate pesticides was very much associated with problems relating to attention or concentration in their children at the tender age of five. They further found that the problems were usually more prevalent among the boys.
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In fact, the study conducted by the researchers at the University of California is one of the numerous studies undertaken by scientists in the last few years that expressed concerns on the fact the chemical substances that are made use of to eliminate insects on crops as well as in the indoor surroundings may perhaps have detrimental impacts on the development of the children's brains. Earlier this year, in June, a study conducted by scientists at the Harvard University stated that greater contact with insecticides by school going children was associated with an enhanced frequency of symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Precisely speaking, organophosphate pesticides actually result in the disruption in the neurotransmitters (chemical substances that send out nerve impulses across a synapse), especially acetylcholine that has a significant role in maintaining attention as well as temporary remembrance.
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According to the principal investigator of the University of California, a research paper published recently in the Environmental Health Perspective journal, Brenda Eskenazi the studies undertaken on the subject of exposure to organophosphate insecticides and its effects offers an increasing amount of proof that putting one through this organic bug killer is able to affect the development of the brain, especially among small children. Brenda, who is also a professor of maternal and child health at the University of California at Berkeley, further emphasized that they are more keen to learn about the impact of the exposure of the parents to this detrimental chemical substance since the brain of the babies mostly develop when they are still in the womb.
During the course of their research, scientists at the University of California pursued over 300 children. The research is a part of a continuing study titled the 'Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas', briefly called CHAMACOS. This study has been examining the impact of ecological exposure and reproductive health. In fact, the scientists undertook two urine tests of the mothers during pregnancy and several urine examinations of the children following their birth to find out the intensity of six metabolites or the products of the metabolic actions or break down of products in organophosphate insecticides.
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Next, the researchers appraised the young kids at the age of three and a half and five years to find if they endured any symptoms of attention or concentration problems as well as ADHD making use of their mothers' reports of child behaviour, performance on homogeneous computer trials and behaviour evaluations from the examiners. In addition, the researchers also controlled for any potential perplexing aspects, including the weight of the children at birth, breastfeeding and lead exposure.
During the evaluation, the researchers detected that for every tenfold augmentation in the parental insecticide metabolites was related to fivefold the chances of having high markings on the computerized examinations for children aged five years. This denoted an increased possibility of a child enduring clinical ADHD. In addition, they also found that the consequences seemed to be more potent in the case of boys in comparison to the girls. Nevertheless, the researches have been unable to find out the reason behind such disparity.
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Although the scientists have been able to detect positive relation between the exposure of parents to pesticide and the concentration disorders endured by children aged three years, actually the findings were not scientifically noteworthy.
However, Brenda Eskenazi said that the findings of the evaluations did not astonish her since it is difficult to identify the symptoms of attention disorder or ADHD in kids because they get distracted very easily. Speaking from Berkeley in California, she said that while they found the commencement of certain things among children who were aged three and a half years, the symptoms were more pronounced in children who were five years old.
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Most of the people who participated in the research were Mexican-Americans residing in the predominantly agricultural society in the Salinas Valley; it is not surprising that they are extremely subjected to harmful pesticides - much higher and for an enhanced period compared to the common people. Even then, Brenda Eskenazi is of the opinion that the use of pesticides is extensive throughout North America and, hence, the findings of the research undertaken by them ought to serve as a warning for all.
Stating that she firmly believed in the principle of adopting precautions before any harm is done particularly when it is linked to children as well as pregnant women, Brenda Eskenazi said that she, therefore, fervently counsels women to completely eat their vegetables and fruits while they are pregnant and always feed vegetables and fruits to their children. At the same time, she emphasized that they should make sure that they wash the fruits and vegetables meticulously in order to eliminate all remaining pesticides on these edibles.
Meanwhile, an environmental health researcher at the University of Montreal, Maryse Bouchard opined that the study conducted by the scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, has presented extremely valuable information vis-à-vis exposure of parents to harmful chemical pesticides and its consequences on the performance of their children afterward. According to Bouchard, who was not a part of the recent study undertaken by the scientists at the University of California, such research increased the already existing vast literature on studies conducted with animals demonstrating that these harmful chemicals are in fact detrimental for majority of the living beings.
Speaking from Montreal, Maryse Boucher pointed out that initially these pesticides were not intended to be poisonous for humans. Explaining that these chemicals eliminated the pests by unsettling the development taking place in their nervous system, she said that, hence, we ought not to be astonished if they also cause any disturbance in the nervous system as well as its functioning in higher organisms. Pointing out that the authorities in a number of places have already prohibited the use of insecticides, Boucher said that according to her, much more effort ought to be made with a view to lessen the exposure of people to these harmful chemical substances.
Maryse Boucher offers a few suggestions that would help one to lessen the exposure of the general people to the pesticides used by cultivators on the crops. She advises that people should not only wash the fruits and vegetables scrupulously before consuming them, but it is also essential to remove the peel of certain fruits and vegetables, especially potatoes and apples. At the same time, she suggests that whenever possible and if reasonably priced, people should purchase all organic produces from the farmers' markets since they have comparatively lesser residual pesticides. Substantiating her view, Boucher says that farmers who grow small quantities of organic produce generally use smaller amount of chemical substances on the crops.
A psychologist as well as a top specialist on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at the University of California at Berkeley, Stephen Hinshaw is of the view that getting hold of ways and means to lessen the occurrence of attention or concentration disorders is one of the foremost worries as far as the people's health and wellbeing are concerned.
According to Hinshaw, elevated levels of ADHD symptoms in children aged five years are actually responsible for their education and accomplishment problems in school. In addition, it may also result in injuries sustained in accidents at home and in the locality as well as a number of problems in their relationships with friends and contemporaries, he said. In addition, symptoms of attention disorder may also be responsible for hindering the children's other crucial capabilities, Hinshaw concluded.
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