Residential proximity to agricultural pesticide use has been associated with many adverse health conditions including neural tube defects and autism.
In a long term study of 283 mothers and children 7 years old living in an agricultural area in the US researchers found a decrease of 2.2 points in Full-Scale IQ and 2.9 points in Verbal Comprehension for each increase in toxicity-weighted use of organophosphate pesticides. In separate analysis, they observed similar decrements in Full-Scale IQ with each standard deviation increase of use for two organophosphate pesticides (acephate and oxydemeton-methyl) and three neurotoxic pesticide groups (pyrethroids, neonicotinoids, and manganese fungicides).
As a part of this ongoing research earlier studies from the same research group identified higher levels of organophosphate urinary metabolites or dialkylphosphate (DAP) levels were ∼40% higher than those in a representative sample of U.S. women of childbearing age and had observed a relationship between prenatal maternal DAP concentrations and children’s performance at 2 y measures of attention at 5 y and Intelligence at 7 years. Several studies in other populations have similarly reported adverse associations of prenatal exposure to OP pesticides and child neurodevelopment
This is part of a long list of studies now showing that exposure to these neurotoxic pesticides are linked with poorer neurodevelopment in children even at moderately low exposures. All pesticides are bioactive agents designed to kill.
Robert B. Gunier, et al 2017. Prenatal Residential Proximity to Agricultural Pesticide Use and IQ in 7-Year-Old Children. Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/EHP504