Here’s another good reason to go organic: experts have found a link between pesticide exposure and ADHD in children.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is more common than you think, occurring in one in 10 children in the United States. That’s about 4.5 million kids ages 5 to 17 diagnosed with this learning disorder characterized by hyperactivity, impulsivity and difficulty with paying attention. Although the exact cause remains unknown, it has been established that genetics, poor prenatal care and environmental toxins may possibly contribute to this problem.
Scientific Evidence Links Pesticide Use to ADHD
Recently added to the list of possible causes is exposure to high levels of pesticides, as revealed in a study conducted by Harvard University and Montreal University, and published in the journal Pediatrics.
Research involved 1,139 kids ages 8 to 15, about 10 percent of which have been diagnosed with ADHD. Urine analysis results indicate that those with ADHD had much higher levels of organophosphates, a type of pesticide designed to destroy the brain and nervous systems of pests.
Lead author Maryse Bouchard explains that the link between the two is worth probing further, as it is known that organophosphates can damage neural connections in the brain, specifically disrupting a neurotransmitter called acetylcholinesterase. Defects in this neurotransmitter are typical in children with ADHD.
Limiting Exposure to Pesticides
The best way to tone down pesticide exposure is to buy locally grown organic produce and watch out particularly for fruits and vegetables such as apples, peaches, cherries, grapes, strawberries, bell peppers, kale, spinach, celery, potatoes and collard greens because all of these tend to be higher in pesticides. It is important to wash these fruits and veggies thoroughly before cooking or eating.
Apart from fruits and vegetables, grains have also been found to contain toxic pesticides. Corn and soy top the list, and should be purchased organic. Stay away from processed foods as well. If you can grow your own crops in your backyard, that would be better. This will not only save you from pesticide exposure but also save you money. Just be sure that you don’t use any chemical pesticides or fertilizers as this will defeat the purpose.
Pill-free management of ADHD
If you suspect that your child has ADHD, it is best that you consult a doctor immediately. Confirming your suspicions with a proper diagnosis is the first step to early intervention. While medications are prescribed to children who display excessive activity and impulsivity, there are other ways to manage your kid’s condition without the pill:
- Show your child that for every action, there is a reaction. Teaching your kid about the consequences of his actions-whether good or bad-makes it easier for you to manage his behavior. When he follows rules, be sure to give compliments and praise. Give occasional rewards for major accomplishments.
- Go for “one-step” commands. Since kids with ADHD find it difficult to pay attention, it would be better to issue short and direct orders. Always be clear with what you want him to do without bombarding him with too many commands.
- Be consistent. Always talk to your spouse about methods for child discipline to make sure you’re on the same page, and you don’t end up sending mixed messages.
- Practice time-out. According to studies, time-outs are an effective form of discipline for kids with ADHD. Again, consistency is key. If you put him on time-out for throwing a tantrum today but let him off the hook the next day, your efforts will be futile.
Minimizing exposure to pesticides is tantamount to safeguarding your family’s health, and reducing risk of many conditions including ADHD.
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