Common Pesticide May Increase the Risk of ADHD

Robin Lally-Rutgers

New research suggests that a commonly used pesticide found on lawns, golf courses, and vegetable crops may raise the risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The pesticide may alter the development of the brain’s dopamine system—which is responsible for emotional expression and cognitive function.

Mice exposed to the pyrethroid pesticide deltamethrin in utero and through lactation exhibited several features of ADHD, including dysfunctional dopamine signaling in the brain, including hyperactivity, attention deficits, and impulsive-like behavior.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder most often affects children, with an estimated 11 percent of children between the ages of 4-17—about 6.4 million—diagnosed as of 2011. Boys are three to four times more likely to be diagnosed than girls.

Importantly, in this study, the male mice were affected more than the female mice, similar to what is observed in children with ADHD.

The ADHD-like behaviors persisted in the mice through adulthood, even though the pesticide, considered to be less toxic and used on golf courses, in the home, and on gardens, lawns, and vegetable crops, was no longer detectable in their systems.

Although there is strong scientific evidence that genetics plays a role in susceptibility to the disorder, no specific gene has been found that causes ADHD and scientists believe that environmental factors may also contribute to the development of the behavioral condition.

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TOXINSSandra Ishkanes