A new study has found that exposure to a common household pesticide may increase the risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.
Mice exposed to the pyrethroid pesticide deltamethrin in utero and through lactation exhibited several features of ADHD, including dysfunctional dopamine signaling in the brain, hyperactivity, attention deficits and impulsive behavior, Firstpost.com reports.
These findings provide strong evidence, that exposure to pyrethroid pesticides, including deltamethrin may be a risk factor for ADHD, said lead author Jason Richardson, associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. The research team was drawn from Rutgers University, Emory University, the University of Rochester Medical Center, and Wake Forest University. “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,” Richardson said. The research is published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB).
Male mice were affected more than female mice, which is similar to what is observed in children with ADHD. ADHD behaviors persisted in the mice through adulthood, even though the pesticide was no longer detected in their systems, according to Firstpost.com. Deltamethrin is considered less toxic and is used in the home, and on gardens, lawns and vegetable crops, and on golf courses.
The researchers used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the researchers analyzed health care questionnaires and urine samples of 2,123 children and adolescents. They asked parents whether a physician had ever diagnosed their child with ADHD and cross-referenced each child’s prescription drug history to determine if any of the most common ADHD medications had been prescribed.
Children with higher pyrethroid pesticide metabolite levels in their urine were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. Young children and pregnant women may be more susceptible to pesticide effects because their bodies do not metabolize the chemicals as quickly, the researchers said, according to Firstpost.com.