Study Links Prenatal Pesticide Exposure to Lower IQ in Elementary-Aged Children

May 20, 2024

UC Berkeley Researchers Find Association Between Residential Proximity to Pesticides and Cognitive Decline

A new study from UC Berkeley researchers has investigated the impact of prenatal residential proximity to agricultural pesticide use on the neurodevelopment of 7-year-old children in the Salinas Valley of California. Using data from the CHAMACOS study, researchers assessed the association between pesticide exposure and cognitive outcomes, considering various pesticide groups and individual pesticides. The findings revealed that higher prenatal residential proximity to organophosphate pesticides was linked to decreased Full-Scale IQ and Verbal Comprehension in children. Specifically, for each standard deviation increase in toxicity-weighted organophosphate pesticide use, there was a decrease in Full-Scale IQ and Verbal Comprehension scores. Similar reductions in Full-Scale IQ were observed with specific organophosphates (acephate and oxydemeton-methyl) and other neurotoxic pesticide groups (pyrethroids, neonicotinoids, and manganese fungicides). These results suggest a potential association between maternal pesticide exposure during pregnancy and poorer neurodevelopment in children, highlighting the importance of further research in this area.

Original Study

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