About The Buzz: Pesticides in Produce Linked to ADHD in Kids?

TheBUZZ Pesticides in produce are linked to ADHD in kids?

Exposure to the organophosphate pesticides commonly used on some fruits and vegetables could contribute to increased risk for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) behavioral symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity in children.



Animal studies and studies conducted on people exposed to high levels of pesticides have been associated with adverse effects on brain development, resulting in behavioral problems and lower learning function. An investigation of children considered representative of the general population found a connection between exposure to pesticides and the presence of ADHD symptoms. Additional and more extensive studies designed specifically to identify whether exposure to pesticides from eating fruits and vegetables actually causes or leads to ADHD are needed.


Pesticides are extensively reviewed by regulatory agencies before approval for market use. Many factors, based on extensive laboratory testing, are examined by government pesticide regulators and all are intended to guarantee safety for the environment and people, including children. The class of organophosphate pesticides that were the subject of this study has been approved and registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and, when used according to the label, determined safe. A 2008 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report on pesticide residues also found that 98% of fruit and vegetable samples had no detectable residue levels at all. Of those that were detectable, the report states “the vast majority were well below established tolerances,” which are determined by the U.S. EPA as safe levels.


This research does NOT recommend or advise for any individual to lower her/his consumption of fruits and vegetables; it suggests the need for further investigation, research and study in the area of pesticide levels in fruits and vegetables and consumption among children.



Fruits and vegetables are an important requirement in healthy diets for many reasons. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables daily provides needed vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidant phytonutrients, all of which contribute to good digestion and help to strengthen and support your ability to fight the risk for many diet-related, long-term health problems. The right balance of nutrients is particularly critical for growing children, as certain areas of bodily development only get one chance to get it right for life.


Fruits and vegetables can be selected and purchased in a variety of forms – fresh, frozen, canned, dried or 100% juice – and most can be eaten either raw or cooked. When purchased fresh, produce should be rinsed or scrubbed as the first step of preparation. But for some fruits and vegetables the outer peel, where any pesticide would be applied, is typically not consumed or can be removed.


To ensure valuable health benefits are not avoided or compromised while scientific research continues to determine the facts about pesticide exposure, thoroughly washing produce or choosing organic forms are options that will allow you to continue to enjoy – and most importantly include – fruits and vegetables in the diets of growing children.


Interactive calculator lets you figure the number of servings of fruits & veggies you could eat in a day and still see no effect from pesticide residue: safefruitsandveggies.com

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