Can ADHD Be Caused by This Common Pesticide?

February 4, 2015 by Dr. Yannick Pauli

When it comes to what causes complex neurological conditions like ADHD and autism, scientists have no conclusive answer. We do know that they are caused in part by genetics, and in other parts, the environment. It’s the latter that I examine extensively ever time I see a new child for ADHD. More often than not, modifiable factors in a child’s lifestyle or environment are the trigger behind their symptoms.

A new study by researchers at Rutgers University discovered that exposure to common household pesticide called pyrethroids may be the culprit behind many cases of ADHD. Pyrethroids are used in a variety of places, from country farms to suburban lawns. They’re also used to control bed bugs. But whether you’re in a big city or small town, there’s a good chance your child has been exposed to this pesticide through contaminated produce.

Lead author Jason Richardson and his team looked at questionnaires and urine samples of 2,123 kids and teens that were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination survey. They then asked parents if their child received a disagnosis of ADHD by a physician, and checked to see if they had prescriptions for ADHD medications.

The researchers paid close attention to those who had more pyrethroid pesticides present in their urine sample. It was observed that kids exposed to it during pregnancy or while breastfeeding were more likely to have issues with impulsivity, paying attention, and working memory. When they experimented on mice, they found that those who had pyrethroid exposure were also more likely to develop ADHD symptoms. What was concerning was that the ADHD symptoms continued to persist even when the pesticides were out of their systems.

It’s been shown that eating organic produce can knock down the amounts of pesticide byproducts in urine by as much as 90%. Pregnant women and young children should take precautions and switch to an organic diet, because their bodies can’t metabolize these pesticides as efficiently as they should. Chemical pesticides at home should be tossed out, controlling household pests through natural methods instead.

And if you suspect that your child might have ADHD, remember that it’s not enough to identify what condition your child has. To overcome the symptoms effectively, solutions must be made to address what’s really causing them. Make sure to take him or her to a medical professional that does a full check on your child’s history and environment, so that these causes can be properly identified.