Child Health Studies

Studies/Articles on the Effects of Pesticides on Children’s Health

Below are summaries of selected studies and articles with links to all of them.

1) Guillette, Elizabeth A., et al.  “An Anthropological Approach to the Evaluation of Preschool Children Exposed to Pesticides in Mexico”, Environmental Health Perspectives, 106: 347-353, June, 1998. 
This study compares the development and abilities of two groups of similar children in Mexico. The children are from the same Yaqui culture. In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, some of the people moved from the valley to the foothills nearby because they did not want to participate in the pesticide-based agriculture that came in to the valley. The children studied are from these two groups.
The children from communities that had been exposed to pesticides since 1950 showed “decreases in stamina, gross and fine eye-hand coordination, 30 - minute memory and the ability to draw a person.”  They also showed more aggressive behaviour, less creativity in their play, and less group play than the children from the communities not exposed to pesticides. Two years later, the children exposed to pesticides were tested again. “Developmental tasks and problem-solving continued to be delayed.” (2)  Click here to download this article.

2) Guillette, Elizabeth A., et al. “Altered Breast Development in Young Girls from an Agricultural Environment”. Environmental Health Perspectives, 114: 471-475, November, 2005.

This study compares the breast development of 8 to 10 year old girls from the same two Mexican areas as mentioned in Study 1 above. The researchers found that the girls exposed to pesticides had generally larger breasts and yet 1 in 3 had mostly fatty tissue and little mammary gland development in their breasts.  The researchers speculated that the cause of this abnormal breast development was disruption of hormones caused by exposure in the womb to pesticides that effect the endocrine glands.  Click here to download this article

3)  Mittelstadt, Martin, “Pesticides are What is Killing Our Kids”, Globe and Mail, Dec. 12, 2006.

Doctors and residents of Prince Edward Island suspect that the pesticides used so heavily on Island potato crops are causing alarming health effects in local children. Read more . . .

4) Alarcon, Walter A. et al. “Acute Illnesses Associated with Pesticide Exposure at Schools.” Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) 294 (4): 455-465. July, 2005.

“Conclusions: Pesticide exposure at schools produces acute illnesses among school employees and students. To prevent pesticide-related illnesses at schools, implementation of integrated pest management programs in schools, practices to reduce pesticide drift, and adoption of pesticide spray buffer zones are recommended.”  Read more . . .

5) Nishioka, Marcia G. et al. “Distribution of 2,4-Dichlorophoxyacetic Acid [2,4-D] in Floor Dust throughout Homes Following Homeowner and Commercial Lawn Applications: Quantitative Effects of Children, Pets, and Shoes.” Environmental Science and Technology 33 (9): 1359-1365, 1999.

The authors measured 2,4-D in different areas of homes after this common lawn weed killer was applied by homeowners and by commercial lawn care companies. The authors found that 2,4-D was tracked into the home from the grass and followed the traffic patterns from the doorways into the homes. Click here for a news article.

6) Cavieres, Maria Fernanda et al. “Developmental Toxicity of a Commercial Herbicide Mixture in Mice: 1. Effects on Embryo Implantation and Litter Size.” Environmental Health Perspectives, 110: 1081-1085, September, 2002.

Pregnant mice were given drinking water with a common mix of weed killer pesticides, including 2,4-D. Litter size (the number of babies) decreased by 20%, and was most marked for mice who received only low doses of the pesticide mix. This study is important for a number of reasons:
1) it shows that the common principle that “the dose makes the poison” (larger amounts of a poison will have a stronger effect) is not correct. Other studies have also shown this.
2)  it backs up studies that link 2,4-D mixtures with birth defects in humans.
Click here to download the article.

7)  Muhammad Towhid Salam, Yu-Fen Li, Bryan Langholz, and Frank Davis Gilliland.  “Early-Life Environmental Risk Factors for Asthma: Findings from the Children's Health Study.” Environmental Health Perspectives, 112: 760-765, May, 2004.

The researchers found that children exposed to pesticides in their first year of life were 2.5 times more likely to develop asthma than children not exposed. Read more . . .

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