Pesticide exposure in the womb could reduce children’s IQ

A new study links exposure to pesticides in the womb to a reduced IQ among children, reports New Scientist.The results come from three studies carried out in New York City and California’s Salinas Valley, which is well known for its intensive vegetable cultivation.

Metabolites of organophosphates were measured in the urine of pregnant women or in blood from the umbilical cord. In the Californian study, the IQ of children of the women in the group with the highest pesticide exposure were on average seven points lower than those of women with the lowest exposure.

The New York City studies found similar results, suggesting that exposure to sprays on farms is not the problem, despite the children from the Californian study coming from Latino farm-working families.

“We believe most of the exposure is occurring through pesticide residues on food,” says Brenda Eskenazi, from the University of California, who led the study.