Prenatal exposure to the pesticide chlorpyrifos linked to tremors in mid childhood

Photo credit: Johann Dreo Photo credit: Johann Dreo

While the organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos—commonly used in conventional agricultural production—has been linked to neurodevelopmental problems, the effects of low-level exposures had not been previously assessed. Now, a study published in the journal NeuroToxicology has found that prenatal exposure is linked to tremors in childhood and may indicate a negative effect on the nervous system. To determine the effects of prenatal exposure to chlorpyrifos on motor skills in children, researchers followed 263 children from birth to eleven years of age. At birth, chlorpyrifos was measured in each subject’s umbilical cord. At about age eleven, all subjects were given a neuropsychological assessment. The results suggest that children who were exposed to higher levels of chlorpyrifos before birth were more likely to exhibit tremors. “This report adds to the body of evidence suggesting that prenatal exposure to chlorpyrifos, at current standard usage levels, is associated with a range of persistent and inter-related developmental problems,” the authors conclude.