ADHD: Strong Evidence Points To Household Pesticides As Contributing Risk Factor

ADHD research found strong evidence that household pesticides may be a risk factor for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Associate professor in the Department and Environmental and Occupational Medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, member of the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, and lead author Jason Richardson said exposure to pyrethroid pesticides might be a contributing factor to ADHD.

Here’s what Richardson said.

“Although we can’t change genetic susceptibility to ADHD, there may be modifiable environmental factors, including exposures to pesticides that we should be examining in more detail.”

On Wednesday, the team of researchers from Wake Forest University, the University of Rochester Medical Center, Emory University, and Rutgers University published their findings in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

Researchers exposed lactating mice, and mice still in the womb, to the pyrethroid pesticide deltamethrin and found the mice developed ADHD-like symptoms, including behavior similar to impulsiveness and hyperactivity. In addition, the scientists found that the ADHD behavior continued through the adulthood of the mice, though the pesticide was no longer in the rodent’s system.

Pyrethroid pesticides are in more than 3,500 registered products, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). From products used for mosquito control to insect repellants for dogs and cats, this pesticide may increase the risk of ADHD, according to this recent discovery. These toxic pesticides are also found on lawns, in gardens, on golf courses, on vegetable crops, and in home pest control products.

Scientists have not determined the exact cause of ADHD; however, many studies show a link between ADHD and genetics. Additional research is focused on the possibility that environments may be a contributing risk factor to ADHD.

Some experts claim ADHD is found in up to 10 percent of children who attend school. In addition, professionals consider the possibility that ADHD is not outgrown and may be a common condition in many adults.

In general, children and adults with ADHD have problems concentrating and paying attention. They have a tendency to act on performing a task before giving the task much thought. They have difficulty following directions and become easily frustrated and bored.

Additionally, adults with ADHD may have trouble with goal setting, employment, organizational skills, and time management, as well. Though some of these behaviors are normal in children, they are more severe and happen more often in children and adults with ADHD.

This latest research on ADHD found children with higher pyrethroid pesticide metabolite levels in their urine were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. More studies and tests need to be performed to determine how pesticide exposure affects pregnant women and young children, according to Richardson.

Richardson offers this advice.

“We need to make sure these pesticides are being used correctly and not unduly expose those who may be at a higher risk.”

In the future, expect to see the results of more studies relating to ADHD being linked to genetics, as well as the environment, including everyday household products.

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