Friday, May 21, 2010

The Nutritionista on the Pesticide and ADHD Study (had to)

It's been the buzz for sure!  A study published in the journal, Pediatrics, suggests that there is a positive association between pesticide use and presence of ADHD in children.  Here are the specifics of the study:
  • Some Dr. Dorks used data from what's called the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.  This is run by the Centers for Disease Control.  These folks travel around the county and set up little mobile doctor's offices.  They randomly select kids and adults of all ages to come in their double-wide, ask them about a billion questions about their health and then siphon off a bunch of biological samples (mainly blood and pee) to run all sorts of analyses.  It is because of these fine people that we have data that ~60% of Americans are overweight or obese, 16% of adults have high cholesterol, 21% of adults currently smoke, etc.  
  • They took the data from about 1000 kids and then looked at the relationship between a diagnosis of ADHD (which was about 100 of these kids) and pesticide residue in their pee.
  • Turns out, the kids with ADHD had a lot more pesticide residue in their pee. 
There was a similar study published in March that showed that pregnant mothers exposed to environmental chemicals (often found in pesticides) had off-spring that were much more likely to have ADHD at age 7 to 11 years.  

Check out the following sentence that was included in that first paper, "Prospective studies are needed to establish whether this association is causal".  

If you are not a dork, I mean scientist, here is what this means:  "We need to wait to really do anything about this because we don't know if pesticides cause ADHD or if having ADHD results in having more pesticide residue in the urine."

Although this seems illogical, this is the reality of running these types of studies.  The best way to determine which comes first (ADHD or pesticide residue in the pee) is to run a study where you get a group of cute, dough-faced, wide-eyed babies together and make one group  eat a bunch of pesticides and not the other.  Okay, that is never going to happen (thank goodness).  

The other way to test this is to find a population of babies, enroll them in your study (have parents sign a form), and then just track them for a period of time (in the case of ADHD, probably 10 years).  Then you can better assess everything they are eating, drinking, doing and look at whether pesticide exposure results in ADHD later on in life.

What can SHE do right now???  Start buying more organic produce or if you buy conventional, wash the produce for at least 2 minutes under running water.  Pesticides are definitely not good for us and who knows what effects they have on our bodies.  Also, take the fruit/veggie outside of the plastic container to wash it.  Nothing makes me cringe more than watching someone open the plastic container of strawberries and rinsing them in the container for 2 seconds.   That's not doing anything!  You cannot even wash off bug poop in that short amount of time, much less chemicals!

(Do you think Pesticides in the Pee is a great name for a band or what?  I do!!!)


  1. I am thankful that you have not washed me rinse my non-organic strawberries/blueberries while they're sitting in the plastic container. Cringe city. I will stop this practice immediately. Thanks, Dr. T. :)

  2. Excuse me. WATCHED me rinse. Freudian slip.

  3. I may just switch over entirely to that KFC sandwich with no bun - you know, just fried chicken patties, bacon and cheese. If there's bug poop and pesticides on my healthy choices making me ADHD, then I may just give up. Squirrel!! Sorry, got distracted there...could be the ADHD...

    As an aside on the KFC sandwich - much to the delight of our overweight population, the Double Down, originally intended to be a short-lived product - has been extended due to excessive demand. God bless America!!!!

  4. GREAT info, Marco eats more fruit than a fruit fly!!!!