Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Remember Lead? Be Warned: Pesticide Exposure in Womb Affects I.Q.

I.Q. may not be the most important thing about our children but why in the world would anyone let something adversly affect their child's IQ?  

Let me tell you a story to illustrate my point. 
There once were two Moms with beautiful, bright, healthy little girls. The little girls loved balloons. They loved to toss them and carry them and run with their balloons tied to strings. Both the little girls loved the color yellow so, of course, a yellow balloon was like a slice of heaven. 

One day the Moms learned that yellow balloons posed a serious health risk. Yellow balloons were considered more detrimental to childrens' well-being than staring into the sun, lead paint or smoking cigarettes while downing a vodka tonic.  

~~> One Mom swiftly walked through her home gathering yellow balloons and immediately threw all of them into a toxic waste dump. She pried the yellow balloon from her little girl's hand and kissed her child's tears away. She explained, as plainly as she could, that it was for the best and she told her daughter that she loved her more than life itself.

~~> The second Mom went into her house and hid all the yellow balloons. She remembered loving yellow balloons as a child and she thought, "They didn't hurt me. I cannot bear to make this change. Yellow balloons are a family tradition." 
She rationalized that a good amount of money had been spent to buy all the yellow balloons. What a waste of money to throw them all away! She walked over to her daughter, who was playing with her favorite yellow balloon and watched in silence. Surely one balloon couldn't hurt her. After all, it was so very pretty. She looked at her daughter's smiling face and told her that she loved her more than life itself.

Now, I know this seems like a silly story. It is so very obvious which Mom is making the right choices.
I know which Mom I strive to be. When faced with facts that show me dangers for my children I do my best to protect them . . . . even if they cry, persist, don't understand or get angry with me.
"Yes, you must wear that seatbelt."
"No, you may not play by the creek when the water has swelled to the brink and the current is dangerously swift because of recent flooding."
"No, you may not buy firecrackers."

There is strong evidence available to us now, based on 10 year studies by very reputable organizations, that show pesticides on fruits, vegetables and other household products may lower a child’s I.Q. Babies exposed to high levels of common pesticides in the womb have lower I.Q. scores than their peers by the time they reach school age, according to three new studies.  The good news is that yellow balloons were not included in the findings!

The research is based on data collected in New York and California from about 1,000 pregnant women and their babies. It is certain to set off a new debate about many things. Some of the risks of chemicals found in the food supply and consumer products we have control over and some we do not.

What Can We Do to Protect Our Children and Ourselves?

  • Avoid everyday consumables that contain pesticides and select more natural choices.  This is easily done by requesting info at
  • Choose organic produce whenever possible.  The Environmental Working Group offers a shopper’s guide showing which foods have the highest and lowest rates of pesticide exposure. Better washing and peeling of conventionally grown produce can also reduce exposure.
Want the details on the scientific studies?  It is as easy as 1, 2, 3 and a LINK . . . 
The latest findings are based on three separate but similar studies financed by the National Institute of Environmental 
Health Sciences and the federal Environmental Protection Agency. 
1) and 2)  Two were conducted by researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Columbia University and studied urban New York families.

3)  The third was done by researchers at the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley, and focused on children in Salinas, Calif., an agricultural area. 

LINK: All three were published online on Thursday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. 

10 Years Ago . . . .    Each study began about a decade ago, when researchers recruited pregnant women who gave blood and urine samples that were used to measure pesticide exposure. In some instances, umbilical cord blood was tested. After the babies were born, the researchers continued to monitor the health of the children and also obtained regular urine samples to determine exposure to pesticides. 

Over all, the studies found that women who had higher exposures to pesticides during pregnancy gave birth to children who eventually had lower I.Q. scores once they reached school age.

In the Berkeley study, for instance, children with the highest levels of prenatal pesticide exposure scored 7 points lower on intelligence tests compared with children with the lowest levels of exposure. In that study, every 10-fold increase in organophosphate exposure detected during pregnancy corresponded to a 5.5 point drop in overall I.Q. scores.  (Note: Whereas a drop in IQ of 5-10 points does not significantly alter the functioning of individuals at the top end of the IQ distribution, it can have a devastating effect on those individuals who are at the low end of the distribution. Source:

What Does This Matter?   “I think these are shocking findings,” said Dr. Philip Landrigan, a professor of pediatrics and director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai. 

“Babies exposed to the highest levels had the most severe effects. It means these children are going to have problems as they go through life.”  

Dr. Landrigan compared the findings with research in the 1980s that linked childhood lead exposure to lower intelligence, dyslexia, higher risk for dropping out of school and a range of behavioral and developmental problems. 

As a result of that research, lead was removed from gasoline to prevent exposure from car exhaust, and it was also removed from paints and other consumer products. 

Dr. Landrigan plainly says,  "The drop in I.Q. scores shown in the pesticide studies is similar to the drops shown in the earlier lead research."

“When we took lead out of gasoline, we reduced lead poisoning by 90 percent, and we raised the I.Q. of a whole generation of children by four or five points.  I think these findings about pesticides should generate similar controversy, but I’m cautiously optimistic that they will have the effect of having the E.P.A. sharply reduce the use of organophosphate pesticides.”

The pesticides, organophosphates, are commonly sprayed on food crops and are often used to control cockroaches and other pests in city apartments. 

Even little changes are better than no changes. For a review of quick, easy and affordable ways to find and reduce toxins in your home please ask for help. One way is to simply request information here.
Another way is to call me. It's what I do . . . and I am good at it.

1) NYTimes - "Pesticide Exposure in Womb Affects I.Q." by Tara Parker-Pope  
5) Dr. Philip Landrigan, a professor of pediatrics and director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai

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