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Pesticide Exposure in Womb Linked to Low IQ

April 21, 2011

USA Today published an article today about research linking low IQ and pesticide exposure in the womb.  The study was conducted by UC Berkeley, Columbia University, and Mt. Sinai Medical School in NY.

The study found that children most heavily exposed to pesticides scored an average of 7 points lower on IQ tests.  By contrast, brain damage caused by exposure to lead only drops IQ scores by 2-3 points on average.

"Pesticide exposure after birth wasn't linked to lower intelligence scores, suggesting that the harm caused by the chemicals is greatest during early pregnancy, when the brain is developing."

"Earlier studies have linked the specific type of bug killer included in these studies, organophosphate pesticides, with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)."

It is important to note that the exposure risk isn't only to people living in agricultural areas because "people are exposed to them through eating fruits and vegetables."

The study concludes that pregnant women don't need to shun fruits and vegetables, but should wash them thoroughly or buy organic produce and limit the use of chemicals in the home.

Any drop in average IQ will increase the number of students needing remedial education and taxpayers will be footing the bill for an economic externality of the agriculture industry.



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