Study Suggests Organic Produce and Grains May Rid Children’s Bodies of Certain Pesticides

A recent study of children in the Seattle-area reveals that organic food may be the key to cleansing the body of certain pesticides.

Researchers found that pesticide levels in children’s bodies were eliminated completely after just a few days on a diet of organic produce and grains. Those levels went up again when the children were switched back to a conventional diet.

Study co-author Chensheng Lu, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at Emory University, noted that organic food tends to be more expensive than conventional food and the possible health risks of the pesticides studied are not entirely clear at present.

The researchers examined two common pesticides known as organophosphorus that are used by growers, although banned in residential areas. According to the team, it has been difficult to determine precisely how much ingested pesticide residue from treated foods children are exposed to.

This new study was prompted by a previous one in which pesticide levels in 110 children were analyzed. In that study, the only found who was found to be pesticide-free ate organic foods on a regular basis.

The current study is based on 23 children from Seattle-area schools between the ages of 3 and 11 who were monitored for (urine) levels of the organophosphorus pesticides malathion and chlorpyrifos over a 15-day period.

The children alternated between diets featuring organic fruits, vegetables and grain products, and their regular diets. Pesticide levels dropped immediately when the children started eating the organic foods.

Although the exact effect of long-term exposure to lose levels of pesticides is still a matter of debate, some experts believe that such exposure cannot be good.

As reported by HealthDay News, there is evidence that the pesticides are dangerous, said Dr. Nathan M. Graber, a fellow in pediatric environmental health at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. “We know that at high doses, these pesticides can cause serious symptoms because they are toxic to the nervous system,” he said, adding that there’s “sound scientific reasoning” that suggests that low doses can damage the developing brain.

Graber encourages parents to see that their children eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, organic or conventional, because the benefits greatly outweigh the risk. “Parents should not feed their children less nutritious foods out of fear of pesticides.”

According to Lu, strawberries, nectarines, peaches, apples, pears and cherries are especially susceptible to pesticide residue, while bananas and oranges, and other fruits and vegetables that are protected by thick skins are less vulnerable.

The study, funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, was published online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives and was to be discussed at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in St. Louis.

(Source: HealthDay News 2.20.06)

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