>A new study links attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with exposure to organophosphates, a pesticide commonly used on fruits and vegetables. Pesticides have already been linked to everything from various cancers to Parkinson's disease, but the ADHD study is particularly alarming for parents who have watched diagnoses of the mental disorder rise 3 percent per year from 1997 to 2006 -- especially those who make an effort to feed their kids fresh fruits and vegetables.
In the ADHD study, published today in Pediatrics, researchers at the University of Montreal and Harvard studied the levels of pesticide residue in the urine of more than 1,139 children ages 8 to 15, 119 of whom were diagnosed with ADHD. The children with highest levels of diakyl phosphates, the breakdown products of organophosphate pesticides, were 93 percent more likely to have the disorder than those with undetectable levels. Overall, the researchers, led by Maryse Bouchard, found a 35 percent increase in the odds of developing ADHD with every tenfold increase in concentration of the residue.
The exact causes of ADHD are still unknown. Bouchard stressed that while her analysis is the first to peg pesticides as a potential contributor to ADHD, the study proves only an association and not a direct causal link. Other studies have shown that exposure to organophosphates in early life can cause brain injuries.