By CHRISTINE DELL’AMORE, UPI Consumer Health Correspondent, 22 Feb 06
Children who switched their diets for only a few days to organic foods dramatically and immediately lowered the amount of toxic pesticides in their bodies, researchers report.
Lead author Chensheng Lu of Emory University found that when kids eat organic foods, pesticides in their body plummet to undetectable levels — even when following the diet for only five days.
“An organic diet does provide protective measures for pesticide exposure in kids,” said Lu, who presented his research at a panel at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in St. Louis. His study appeared in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
Lu designed a novel intervention study by substituting organic foods into the diets of 23 elementary school children in the Seattle area. All the kids, who were aged 3 to 11, had metabolites — or evidence of pesticides — in their urine at the study’s start. But as soon as they began eating organic foods, the concentration of metabolites dropped to essentially
zero. Once they returned to their conventional diet, the pesticides levels bounced back up.
Lu said he is confident that the pesticide reductions can be attributed to the kids’ diet, because the particular class of pesticides studied, called organophosphorus pesticides, or OPs, are not found in households. The kids ingested these pesticides from eating conventional foods, and not from playing in grass treated with chemicals, for example.
Lu and Fenske claim the health risks to children are still uncertain, although Lu points out that there’s no getting around the fact a pesticide is a neurotoxin. Since the chemicals disrupt enzymes in the brain which govern communication, exposure to pesticides could damage a child’s brain. These chemicals are developed, after all, to kill bugs by paralyzing or over-exciting their neurological systems.
“In terms of the impact of these low levels of chemicals on a regular basis in a developing organism — and that’s what a child’s neurological system is — this is extremely important that we try to understand this,” Fenske said.
The Environmental Protection Agency warns children may be sensitive to pesticides because their excretory systems are not developed enough to excrete pesticides, and that in relation to their body weight, kids eat and drink more than adults.
Currently, researchers are studying whether conditions like attention deficit disorder, lowered IQs, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease can be linked to early exposure to pesticides. Children are most vulnerable to pesticides from formation of the fetus up to 2 years of age.
Charles Benbrook, the chief scientist of The Organic Center, a Rhode Island-based nonprofit encouraging the widespread adoption of organic foods and processes, says there’s enough consensus to act now to rid agriculture of pesticides. He mentioned the work of Robin Whyatt at Columbia University with pregnant women in New York. Whyatt found that birth weight and birth length is lower in children whose mothers were exposed to pesticides.
Benbrook said he was amazed at how fast and how significantly the urinary metabolites fell in Lu’s study participants.
Full article at http://washtimes.com/upi/20060222-044543-1356r.htm