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Exposure to pesticides in womb linked to learning disabilities

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USA Today

Babies exposed to high levels of pesticides while in the womb may suffer from learning problems, a new study suggests.

Children exposed to the highest pesticide levels in utero were three times as likely to have a mental delay compared to children with lower levels.

The study focused on a chemical called permethrin, one of the pyrethroid pesticides, commonly used in agriculture and to kill termites, fleas and household bugs, says lead author Megan Horton of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health. Most of the pregnant women in this New York-based study were exposed by spraying for cockroaches.

Permethrin — among the most commonly detected pesticides in homes — is being used more often today as older organophosphorous pesticides are phased out because of concerns that they harm brain development, says Horton, whose study is being published today in Pediatrics.

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