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Planned Parenthood Offers Pesticide Warning

Nurse practitioners at Planned Parenthood (PP) are used to doling out the usual prenatal advice- stop smoking, limit drinking consumption, and load up on prenatal vitamins. Planned Parenthood (PP) of Salinas, CA, is taking this advice one step further.

Because at least 40 of the female patients serviced in this PP location work in pesticide-laden farm fields, staff are now also advising clients to not eat the fruit harvested before washing it, wash hands before eating, wash work clothes separately and to change clothes before getting in a car, entering the home, or hugging the children.

A University of California Berkeley study, published last month in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides, which are known to be toxic to the nervous system, is related to lower IQ’s in children.

Seven-year-olds whose mothers had the highest organophosphate levels in their systems during pregnancy lagged a full seven IQ points behind the kids whose mothers had the lowest levels of exposure.

In 1999, researchers at UC Berkeley’s Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health embarked on the study by partnering with a Salinas hospital and a health clinic to form the CHAMACOS (Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas) project. Together they recruited 500 pregnant women and tested them for organophosphate exposure twice during their pregnancies. The researchers have followed them and their children ever since, measuring the cognitive abilities of the kids about every two years.

The Berkeley study and two others by researchers at Columbia University and Mt Sinai Medical Center are the first to examine the long-term effects of pesticide exposure on children before and after birth. All three studies have reached similar conclusions.

Dieseldorff, who examined the research in recent months, said the results surprised her because they showed that pesticides don’t necessarily cause immediate harm like premature birth or underweight babies.

“But the effects are more subtle. They’re showing up as developmental delays,” Dieseldorff said.


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