After our oldest son was born and began eating solid foods, we made the choice to feed him as much organic food as we could, and while we didn’t know all of the reasons to choose organic, we only needed one – pesticides.
Little bodies are the most susceptible to pesticide exposure because their immune system and internal organs are still developing so they might not be able to fight toxins effectively. Makes sense, right? But what does that really mean for the health of our kids? Science is beginning to find some really compelling answers.
“Once the kids in our study switched to organic diets, the pesticide level disappeared.” – Dr. Alex Lu
First, in 2009 The President's Cancer Panel came out with a report recommending choosing food grown without pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and artificial growth hormones to help reduce your exposure to chemicals that may cause cancer. The panel made a point to strongly encourage parents to choose foods that minimize children's exposure to these toxins throughout pregnancy and early life because that’s when the risk is greatest.
And, a 2009 study published in Pediatrics suggests that organophosphate (OP) pesticide exposure may contribute to ADHD in children. OP pesticide residues are commonly found on non-organic fruits and vegetables like grapes, apples, and green beans. Children in the study with higher levels of these pesticides were more likely to have ADHD compared to children with lower levels.
While the science can be a little scary, the good news is that there’s something we can do about it. Research from a team at the University of Washington suggests we can immediately and dramatically reduce the pesticide content in a child's body by switching to organic foods.
In fact, Dr. Alex Lu, who ran the study at the University of Washington said, “Once the kids in our study switched to organic diets, the pesticide level disappeared. Totally disappeared.”
Choosing organic food for my family hasn’t always been easy. But knowing how important it is for my kids inspires me to constantly find new ways – from making our own baby food to keeping a wallet sized version of the EWG’s Dirty Dozen in my shopping bags.
Looking for other ways to help your kids (and you!) avoid pesticides in your diets? Start here.
 Washington State Department of Family and Child Health. Reducing pesticide exposure in children and pregnant women. Fall/Winter 2006. Available at: http://depts.washington.edu/nwbfch/PDFs/NWBv21n1.pdf
 President's Cancer Panel. Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What we can do now. Annual Report 2008-2009. Full report available at: http://deainfo.nci.nih.gov/advisory/pcp/annualReports/pcp08-09rpt/PCP_Report_08-09_508.pdf.
 Bouchard MF, Bellinger DC, Wright RO, Weisskopf MG. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and urinary metabolites of organophospahte pesticides. Pediatrics. 2010;125e1270-1277.
 Lu C, Toepel RI, Fenske R, Barr D, Bravo R. Organic diets significantly lower childrens' dietary exposure to Organophosphorous Pesticides.Environmental Health Perspectives. 2006 Feb;114(2):260-3.