A Reason to Go Organic: Women Exposed to Pesticides Have Children With Lower IQs

Three studies published today—according to one co-author, the first to ever study the effects of low-level pesticide exposure on fetuses—have found that pregnant mothers who are exposed to pesticides give birth to children with IQs that are slightly lower than those of children who were not exposed to pesticides. This outcome was especially common among Latin American and African American women who participated in the studies. The Los Angeles Times has more details:

Pesticides on fruits and vegetables may be harmful to a developing fetus -- slightly. Children whose mothers were exposed to low doses of a specific class of pesticides may have a slightly lower IQ in later childhood, three new studies suggest.

The new research found children had a slightly lower IQ by age 7 if their mothers, mostly low-income and mostly Latina and black, had higher-than-average exposure in pregnancy to organophosphates, pesticides farmers still sometimes spray on fruits and vegetables. But some of the data are not as conclusive as they might seem at first glance.

All three studies, published Thursday in Environmental Health Perspectives, measured the presence of organophosphates in the mother's urine or blood during pregnancy. Women could have ingested the pesticides by way of food or breathing the air -- the pesticides were once common in households before the EPA banned their use in 2002, but in inner cities, these insecticides were still common in the mid-2000's to control insect infestations. In the three studies, the children took an IQ test around age 7 that measured working memory and reasoning abilities.

Read the full story at The Los Angeles Times.

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Daniel Fromson, a former associate editor at The Atlantic, is a writer based in Washington, D.C. He writes regularly for The Washington Post. His work has also appeared in Harper's Magazine, New York, and Slate.

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