Children Should Avoid Pesticide Exposure

The nation’s leading group of pediatricians recommends exposing children as little as possible to pesticides commonly used in homes and schools.

“Prenatal and early childhood exposure to pesticides is associated with pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive functioning and behavioral problems,” states a news release from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The AAP outlines the harmful effects of pesticides on children in a new policy statement. The statement was published in conjunction with a technical report that analyzes common pesticide poisoning in children. About 45 percent of all reports of pesticide poisoning to poison control centers in 2008 involved children, the report found.

“Evidence is increasingly emerging about chronic health implications from both acute and chronic exposure,” the report states. “A growing body of epidemiological evidence demonstrates associations between parental use of pesticides, particularly insecticides, with acute lymphocytic leukemia and brain tumors.”

The largest risks come during pregnancy and exposure from home or a parent’s workplace.

The AAP urges pediatricians to ask parents about their pesticide use around the home and yard. Parents need to “choose the lowest-harm approaches when considering pest control. Pediatricians should also work with schools and government agencies to advocate for the least toxic amounts of pest control, and to inform communities when pesticides are being used in the area.”

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