Study Links ADHD in Kids to Pesticides

You may have seen the recent report or media attention regarding the decision the FDA was making regarding several specific food dyes in foods.  After sorting through the research they came to the conclusion that the food dyes weren’t linked to various behavioral issues and didn’t need to be banned (NOTE: they are in several other countries around the world).

So if it’s not food dyes, is it pesticides that should be banned?  Are pesticides an issue?  Check out this study from the Journal, Pediatrics.pesticides and ADHD

In a nutshell the study measured pesticide content in the urine of over 1,000 8-15 year olds.  Over10% of the participants had symptoms of ADHD … and, those with the highest concentration of the pesticide were more likely to have ADHD.

First, and as always, correlation doesn’t mean causation — in other words this was a correlation study, not one where we can directly see a cause and effect response.  However they did do a great job controlling for many other factors.

The first media report I saw about this focused on frozen fruit and vegetables — it said "you should not eat these anymore."  

And then some others started trickling out and they loosened up their recommendations a bit.

So what’s our take on it?

First, this was just one study — looking at just one snapshot of time in the adolescents.  However, keep in mind that others have shown other effects on the brain from this particular common pesticide.  And the doses of this pesticide were at "normal" consumption levels in adolescents, so not some abnormal amount given to determine the effect.

So more studies are clearly needed.

But with an almost 2 year old daughter ourselves, hearing "more studies are needed" when we’re talking about the health of children isn’t a great answer, even though we still do want to see them.

This study is clearly not definitive and is not the "final answer" on this situation.

There is likely a lot we don’t know about food additives, dyes, chemicals, and pesticides.  And that hammers home the point of focusing on foods that have less ingredients when feeding yourself and your family.

It also brings up the point again about buying organic foods.


From what we know about this point in time, there are a few things we suggest you can do:

  • If you garden yourself, avoid using pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals.  
  • Also avoid using fertilizers and pesticides on your lawns, if you have kids who play in them, or have gardens where these can leach into the soil.
  • When you do buy "soft" fruits that you eat the skin, like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and peaches, for example, buy organic.  Yes, these might cost more, but it appears to be worthwhile down the road.
  • Try to eat local foods when they are in season

In our opinion, the unknown is not worth it for our health and safety.  Yes, the pesticide companies and some governing bodies say these are all safe — but the less of anything "foreign" we can put in our bodies, the better. 




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