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Higher Pesticide Exposure Linked to Increased ADHD Risk

Last Updated: May 17, 2010.

High levels of organophosphate exposure have been associated with adverse effects on neurodevelopment, and cross-sectional data suggest that levels of exposure common in U.S. children may contribute to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder prevalence, according to research published online May 17 in Pediatrics.

MONDAY, May 17 (HealthDay News) -- High levels of organophosphate exposure have been associated with adverse effects on neurodevelopment, and cross-sectional data suggest that levels of exposure common in U.S. children may contribute to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) prevalence, according to research published online May 17 in Pediatrics.

Maryse F. Bouchard, Ph.D., of Harvard University in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data on 1,139 children from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2000 to 2004) who were representative of the U.S. population.

The researchers found that 119 of the children met the diagnostic criteria for ADHD. Those who had higher urinary dialkyl phosphate concentrations, particularly dimethyl alkylphosphate (DMAP), had a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with ADHD; a 10-fold increase in DMAP concentration was linked to an odds ratio of 1.55 after adjusting for a number of demographic and clinical factors. Children with levels of the most commonly detected DMAP metabolite above the median level of detected concentrations had twice the odds of ADHD compared with children whose levels were undetectable.

"These findings support the hypothesis that organophosphate exposure, at levels common among U.S. children, may contribute to ADHD prevalence. Prospective studies are needed to establish whether this association is causal," the authors write.

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