Prenatal exposure to pesticides linked to poor motor function in infants.

Photo credit: Victor

A recent study published in Environment International has found that infants exposed to the pesticides naled and chlorpyrifos before birth had reduced motor function when at nine months of age.  Researchers from the University of Michigan collected blood from the umbilical cords of 199 Chinese babies to determine their levels of exposure via their mothers. Blood samples were tested for 30 different organophosphate pesticides. The children were then revisited at six weeks and nine months of age to assess motor skills including (but not limited to) reflexes, locomotion, grasping, fine motor skills such as picking up small objects with two fingers, and gross motor skills such as crawling. Researchers detected the organophosphate pesticides naled, methamidophos trichlorfon, chlorpyrifos and phorate in more than 10% of the children, and exposure to chlorpyrifos and naled before birth was associated with a decrease in motor skills at nine months of age compared with children who were not exposed. These results are concerning for children in agricultural communities where chlorpyrifos is commonly uses as well as for children in areas where Zika is a concern, such as Florida, because naled is aerially sprayed to combat mosquitos.  This study was the first to investigate the health effects of non-work related exposure to naled.