Skip to main content

22-08-2010 | Gynaecology | Article

Prenatal pesticide exposure could lead to ADHD in childhood


Journal Abstract

MedWire News: Study results suggest that prenatal exposure to organophosphate (OP) pesticides could be associated with the development of attention disorders in young children, including attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Amy Marks, from the University of California, Berkley, USA, and colleagues measured levels of six dialkyl phosphate (DAP) metabolites twice during the pregnancies of 323 women who had live singleton births, and interviewed the women when their children were 3.5 and 5 years old.

The women lived in Salinas Valley, where more than 235,000 kg of pesticides are applied annually.

The average prenatal maternal urinary DAP concentrations were higher than those for a nationally-represented sample of women of childbearing age, report the researchers, at 109.0 versus 82.3 nmol/l.

At the 3.5 year follow-up, approximately 5 percent of mothers reported child behavior in the range of ADHD symptoms. By 5 years of age, 8.5 percent of children were classified as having ADHD.

Analysis revealed a significant association between prenatal DAP levels and attention problems at 5 years after adjusting for urinary creatinine levels.

For every 10-fold increase in DAP concentration, children were 5.1-times more likely to score above 70 percent confidence for ADHD on the ADHD Conners' Kiddie Continuous Performance Test.

"Given that attention problems of children interfere with learning and social development, finding potential causes that can be remediated are of great public health importance," said Marks et al.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Sarah Guy