Dr. Shahal Rozenblatt, Clinical Neuropsychologist, New York

Newsday- LI docs react to study linking ADD with pesticides

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LI docs react to study linking ADD with pesticides
May 17, 2010 by TOM INCANTALUPO /

Another study linking pesticides to attention deficit disorder probably won’t change the way the condition is treated, local doctors say, but it does suggest that more study is needed into environmental causes of the condition that is thought to be mostly genetic.

The study, which had four co-authors and was published in the journal Pediatrics, found that children with high levels of pesticide residue in their urine were more likely to have symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – ADHD.

“It’s incremental,” clinical child psychologist Joseph Blader, a researcher at Stony Brook University’s School of Medicine, said of the findings. “You get something on the map and it warrants more detailed study.”

Dr. Thomas Preston, director of neuropsychology services at the university’s Medical Center, said, “What’s interesting about this is that it encourages us once again to think about possible environmental causes even if they [ADD cases] are occurring at low levels [of exposure to pesticides].”

At the former Schneider Children’s Hospital, now the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park, Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics, said the study is significant in part because it is based on a general sample of children, not those believed to have been exposed to high levels of insecticides. “What’s important about it is that it’s looking at a random sampling of children,” he said.

And, he said, it suggests pesticides as another environmental factor in developmental abnormalities like ADD, along with prenatal exposure to alcohol, cocaine and cigarette smoke.

“It is,” he said “at least one more reason why families should be attentive to rinsing and washing vegetables.”

But clinical neuropsychologist Shahal Rozenblatt, whose office is in Smithtown, says he wouldn’t automatically blame pesticide-treated foods as opposed to organic ones if he diagnosed ADD in a patient. “We don’t know what causes ADD in any particular child,” he said. “If I find out that your son is eating regular applesauce instead of organic, I’m not going to say ‘Aha!’ ” Chances are, he said, he’ll find another family member with ADD. “It’s more likely to be genetic rather than environmental,” he said.

The new study noted that the National Academy of Sciences believes food and water are the major sources of pesticides to which children are exposed.

The Attention Deficit Disorder Association, based in Wilmington, Del., estimates that eight to nine million U.S. adults have ADD and that it is “very likely caused by biological factors which influence neurotransmitter activity in certain parts of the brain, and which have a strong genetic basis.”

The most common symptoms are poor sustained attention to tasks, impaired impulse control and excessive activity and physical restlessness.