Protect Your Child from These 5 Pesticide Threats

Your family's kids' health rules should include a comprehensive plan to avoid pesticides.

By Leah Zerbe


Your child's health becomes the center of your universe when you become a parent. And while most parents wouldn't dream of harming a child, chemical companies and lackluster laws have made it tough to protect kids from pesticide threats. Chemical pesticides aren't required by law to go through stringent testing for long-term health impacts before they hit the market, but independent researchers are piecing together tidbits of the pesticide puzzle, turning over evidence that makes it clear that even minute exposures in the womb and during infancy and early childhood could lead to serious health setbacks for children.

Infant Leukemia
A 2013 Brazilian study identified a connection between a mother's exposure to pesticides in her household and workplace and two types of rare cancers in babies, acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The researchers found that mothers who said they were exposed to pesticides at least once had a two- to seven-times greater risk of having a child diagnosed with one of these cancers before the age of 2. This is just the latest evidence highlighting the pesticides and cancer risk in children.

Mitigate the Risk: Whether a women is trying to become pregnant, is pregnant, or is nursing, it's important that she to avoid pesticides. The Brazilian study in particular found that the insect-killing chemical permethrin caused a spike in childhood cancer risk. Permethrin is commonly used on some food crops and in mosquito-repelling clothing, flea and tick products for pets, and household bug sprays. For natural mosquito protection, try sprays that use soybean or geranium oils, not chemicals, to repel the biting pests.

Levels of pesticides commonly encountered across the country in food as well as around the home are significantly increasing children's risk of developing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a 2010 Harvard study published in the journal Pediatrics. Children with substantially higher levels of a breakdown product of neurotoxic organophosphate pesticides were twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.

Mitigate the Risk: Eat organic. The science shows that switching to an organic diet reduces the levels of pesticides in your body by 85 to 90 percent.