(Beyond Pesticides, January 4, 2022) Home use of pesticides is associated with harmful effects on infant motor development, according to a study published late last year in the journal Pediatric and perinatal epidemiology. The research focused primarily on low-income Hispanic women located in Los Angeles, California, enrolled in an ongoing study called Maternal and Developmental Risks of Environmental and Social Stressors (MADRES). As with other pollutants in society, low-income people in communities of color come in disproportionate contact with toxic pesticides, resulting in exposures that can start early and affect health over the lifespan.
The women enrolled in the MADRES cohort are over 18 years of age and speak fluent English or Spanish. For the present study, approximately 300 MADRES participants fulfilled the enrollment criteria and completed questionnaires on the use of pesticides at home during a 3-month postnatal visit. The questionnaire generally asked if pesticides had been used at home since the birth of their child. After another 3 months, the researchers also tested the motor development of infants using an Ages and Stages-3 protocol screening tool, which assesses a child’s ability to perform muscle movements.
Overall, about 22% of mothers reported using pesticides at home during their children’s first months of life. The analysis found that 21 of the infants tested were below the screening tool threshold which suggests further evaluation by a healthcare professional. “In the fitted models, infants whose mothers reported domestic use of rodent or insect pesticides had higher expected gross motor scores 1.30 (95% CI 1.05, 1.61) higher than infants in households with no reported home pesticide use, with higher scores indicating decreased gross motor skills. performance, ”says the study.
While the researchers say more data is needed to determine the specific pesticides that may play a role, the general results support the hypothesis that home pesticide use is associated with damage to infant motor development. Using a method to calculate unmeasured variables that might influence the final results, the researchers note that “the E value of 1.92 (95% CI 1.28, 2.60) suggests that a Substantial unmeasured confusion would be necessary to reduce the observed association between domestic use of rodent and insect pesticides and the development of gross motor skills in the infant.
Over the past decade, the use of pesticides for household use has generally shifted from the use of old organophosphate chemistries to the use of synthetic pyrethroid insecticides. But this change did not result in safer exposures; a growing body of literature shows that synthetic pyrethroids can have adverse health effects, especially in children. Numerous studies have been published linking synthetic pyrethroids to developmental problems in children. More recently, a 2019 Danish study found that higher concentrations of pyrethroid insecticides correlated with higher rates of ADHD in children. Exposure to pesticides at a young age can have far-reaching effects. In addition to motor skills and learning development, young boys exposed to synthetic pyrethroids are more likely to experience an early onset of puberty.
These data are all the more concerning in the context of discoveries that show how synthetic pyrethroids can persist as residues on hard surfaces in the home for more than a year. This persistent residue can lead to multiple re-exposures, transforming what an individual might consider a single use into a chronic exposure event. Unfortunately, for many low-income residents of the United States, using pesticides in and around their homes or apartments is not a decision they can make. Many property management companies, landlords, and public housing authorities have ongoing service contracts with chemical pest control companies, or require residents to regularly treat their homes. This outdated and dangerous approach to pest control, which often includes service calls that prophylactically spray toxic pesticides without considering the need, results in disproportionate exposure to low-income people who might otherwise keep a home spotless. It’s no wonder that studies can match disease risk to the zip code, with people with low incomes, natives, and communities of color being most at risk of developing pesticides and other disease-induced illnesses. ‘environment.
While research shows that feeding children an organic diet improves test scores measuring memory and intelligence, the additional use of pesticides in the home may undermine these benefits, despite increased price pressure for organic products in the household. many cases. Ultimately, everyone should have access to healthy foods grown without pesticides and be able to live a life without mandatory exposure to toxic pesticides that harm your health and that of your family. If pesticide use is changeable – if you can stop using them in your home, or speak with your landlord or service provider – Beyond Pesticides strongly recommends that you take action to stop use. For assistance on stopping the use of household pesticides and managing household pests without chemicals, see Beyond Pesticides’ ManageSafe webpage or contact [email protected].
All positions and opinions not attributed in this article are those of Beyond Pesticides.