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Can Toxic Foods and Pesticides Affect Your Baby’s Brain?

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  • Veggie Culture Starter

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    • Ideal for appetite and weight control
    • Ideal for pregnant women
    • Ideal for children with Autism and ADD
    • Can be enjoyed daily
    • Easy to make at home

Children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of pesticides. Birth defects, developmental disorders, learning disorders, and brain abnormalities are more common in babies that have been exposed to pesticides. (1)(2)

Even at low levels, organophosphate pesticides may be dangerous to the developing brains of children.

The bad news is that pesticides are everywhere—in the air, in the soil, in our water, and in dust.

Researchers have even found that pesticides travel long distances, showing up in Alaskan snow and ice core samples from Norway. (3)(4) Pesticides are also in our food—in the food that pregnant mothers eat and in the food we feed our children.

In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a study showing that almost all—99 to 100 percent—of pregnant women carry detectable levels of toxic chemicals, including pesticides. (5)

The Truth About Pesticides and Pregnancy

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Common pesticides used in agriculture can irreparably damage the body, especially in infants and children. The best way to avoid pesticide exposure is to buy organic and to eat plenty of detoxifying fermented vegetables, made from the Veggie Culture Starter.

While common pesticides like organophosphates help farmers to produce a full crop, they also cause irrecoverable damage to the body.

Organophosphate pesticides include common pesticides that are used in agriculture, home landscaping, and public recreation areas.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency:

  • Approximately 40 organophosphate pesticides are registered for use in the United States. (6)
  • In 2001, 73 million pounds of organophosphate pesticides were used on farms and in homes.
  • Food, drinking water, and everyday pesticide use on home property are the major sources of pesticide exposure. (7)

Organophosphate pesticides block an enzyme that plays a critical role in nerve function. This is how organophosphate pesticides kill insects. It is also how they poison our bodies. Even at low levels, organophosphate pesticides may be dangerous to the developing brains of children.

For example, recent research from the University of California, Davis, found that pregnant women living within a mile of agricultural fields treated with insecticides are at a greater risk for having a child diagnosed with autism: (8)

  • Women living within a mile of fields sprayed during their pregnancy were 60 percent more likely to have a child diagnosed with autism.
  • Women living near fields sprayed with chlorpyrifos (a type of organophosphate pesticide) during their second trimester were 3.3 times more likely to have a child diagnosed with autism.

Organophosphate pesticides also put your baby at greater risk for learning disorders like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

In 2010, scientists from Harvard University and the University of Montreal published a study suggesting that exposure to organophosphate pesticides—at levels common among US children—may contribute to ADHD. (9)

In 2013, a review was published in the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health showing that children exposed to pesticides may show signs of developmental disorders, or ADHD-like behavior. (10)

The Clean Fifteen and the Dirty Dozen

While the Environmental Protection Agency banned the residential use of organophosphates in 2001, they are still sprayed on fruits and vegetables. They are also used to control pests in public spaces, like parks.

The National Academy of Sciences reports that infants and children are mostly exposed to pesticides through their diet. (11)

For example, in 2008 the US Pesticide Residue Program Report revealed that detectable concentrations of organophosphate pesticides were found in: (12)

  • 28 percent of frozen blueberry samples
  • 25 percent of strawberry samples
  • 19 percent of celery samples

Peaches, apples, grapes, green beans, and pears are also commonly contaminated with organophosphate pesticides. This means that if we want to minimize our exposure to pesticides, we must shop for organic foods. Look for the PLU code on stickers—the code should be 5 digits long and begin with a 9.

To make shopping a little easier, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) developed a shopping list that highlights the cleanest and the dirtiest conventionally-raised fruits and vegetables. (13)

The Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen can help you navigate through the market. All fruits and vegetables listed on the Dirty Dozen list are those most contaminated with pesticides. When shopping for fruits and vegetables that have made the Dirty Dozen, make sure to purchase only organic.

EWG’s Dirty Dozen Plus:

  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet bell peppers
  8. Nectarines, imported
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Cherry tomatoes
  11. Snap peas, imported
  12. Potatoes
  13. Hot peppers
  14. Kale/collard greens

EWG’s Clean Fifteen:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet peas, frozen
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangos
  9. Papaya
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Grapefruit
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Sweet potato

Probiotic Foods to the Rescue!

The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reported on a study that showed that lactic acid bacteria created by fermented vegetables could degrade the organophosphate insecticide Chlorpyrifos fully in nine days. Beneficial bacteria and yeast in fermented foods are powerful detoxification agents.

What To Remember Most About This Article:

Young children are especially vulnerable to the damaging effects of pesticides. According to research, birth defects, learning disorders, developmental disorders, and brain abnormalities are more prevalent among babies exposed to pesticides. Toxic chemicals, including pesticides, have been detected in 99 to 100 percent of pregnant women.

Pesticides may be common, but they are highly dangerous. Pesticides kill insects, and they also poison the body; even at low levels, pesticides can affect the developing brains of children. Exposure to common organophosphate pesticides in the US may contribute to ADHD in children.

Pesticides are in the environment, but exposure is most common for infants and children in the diet. The best way to protect your family is to shop smart and buy organic, using the Environmental Working Group Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen shopping lists below. Research also supports lactic acid bacteria created by fermented vegetables to degrade harmful pesticides and detoxify the body.

The Dirty Dozen Plus:

  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet bell peppers
  8. Nectarines, imported
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Cherry tomatoes
  11. Snap peas, imported
  12. Potatoes
  13. Hot peppers
  14. Kale/collard greens

The Clean Fifteen:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet peas, frozen
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangos
  9. Papaya
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Grapefruit
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Sweet potato
  • Veggie Culture Starter

    Veggie Culture Starter

    Resist Infections, Enhance Digestion

    • Ideal for appetite and weight control
    • Ideal for pregnant women
    • Ideal for children with Autism and ADD
    • Can be enjoyed daily
    • Easy to make at home

REFERENCES:

  1. Rauh, V. A., Perera, F. P., Horton, M. K., Whyatt, R. M., Bansal, R., Hao, X., ... & Peterson, B. S. (2012). Brain anomalies in children exposed prenatally to a common organophosphate pesticide. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(20), 7871-7876.
  2. Jurewicz, J., Polanska, K., & Hanke, W. (2013). Chemical exposure early in life and the neurodevelopment of children-an overview of current epidemiological evidence. Ann Agric Environ Med, 20(3), 465-86.
  3. Muir, D. C., & de Wit, C. A. (2010). Trends of legacy and new persistent organic pollutants in the circumpolar arctic: Overview, conclusions, and recommendations. Science of the total environment, 408(15), 3044-3051.
  4. Ruggirello, R. M., Hermanson, M. H., Isaksson, E., Teixeira, C., Forsström, S., Muir, D. C., ... & Meijer, H. A. (2010). Current use and legacy pesticide deposition to ice caps on Svalbard, Norway. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres (1984–2012), 115(D18).
  5. Woodruff, T. J., Zota, A. R., & Schwartz, J. M. (2011). Environmental Chemicals in Pregnant Women in the United States: NHANES 2003–2004. Research Children’s Health. Environmental health perspectives, 119(6), 879.
  6. US Environmental Protection Agency. Pesticide reregistration status for organophosphates. Available at: http://www.epa.gov/oppsrrd1/reregistration/status_op.htm. Accessed July 02, 2014 .
  7. Hubal, E. C., Sheldon, L. S., Burke, J. M., McCurdy, T. R., Berry, M. R., Rigas, M. L., ... & Freeman, N. C. (2000). Children's exposure assessment: a review of factors influencing Children's exposure, and the data available to characterize and assess that exposure. Environmental Health Perspectives, 108(6), 475.
  8. Shelton, J. F., Geraghty, E. M., Tancredi, D. J., Delwiche, L. D., Schmidt, R. J., Ritz, B., ... & Hertz-Picciotto, I. (2014). Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Prenatal Residential Proximity to Agricultural Pesticides: The CHARGE Study. Environ Health Perspect.
  9. Bouchard, M. F., Bellinger, D. C., Wright, R. O., & Weisskopf, M. G. (2010). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and urinary metabolites of organophosphate pesticides. Pediatrics, 125(6), e1270-e1277.
  10. Polańska, K., Jurewicz, J., & Hanke, W. (2013). Review of current evidence on the impact of pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls and selected metals on attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children. International journal of occupational medicine and environmental health, 26(1), 16-38.
  11. National Research Council (US). Committee on Pesticides in the Diets of Infants, & Children. (1993). Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children. National Academy Pre.
  12. US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service. Pesticide Data Program: Annual Summary, Calendar Year 2008. Washington, DC: US Department of Agriculture; 2009. Available at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5081750. Accessed July 02, 2014.
  13. http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/. Accessed July 02, 2014.
  14. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19199784

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  • Anna

    Thank you for spreading the word on pesticides and their effects on our children. Using the dirty dozen and clean fifteen makes
    going organic feasible and practical.

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