According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 6.1 million children have with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as of 2016. Symptoms of ADHD include trouble concentrating, paying attention, staying organized and remembering details.
Environmental epidemiology is a branch of epidemiology that examines associations between environmental exposures and human health. But the research examines the association between environmental contaminants and neurological disorders. Prenatal levels of OP biomarkers have with characteristic symptoms of ADHD; including deficits in working memory, social responsiveness, and other indicators.
Children with ADHD
Cross-sectional studies also have shown that children with ADHD; higher levels of ADHD behaviors have higher levels of pyrethroid metabolites. However, several gaps exist in the existing research; for no studies have evaluated prenatal exposure to these pesticides and ADHD in a large prospective study that follows a group of similar individuals over time. “I’m interested in this particular study because there is a relaxed attitude toward organophosphate; pyrethroid pesticide use among the general public.
But if a link exists between exposure to these pesticides and childhood ADHD. Use during sensitive periods of development, such as pregnancy and early childhood; might need to limit or avoid. “One of the most challenging aspects of this type of research is identifying what it means to be exposed. Does it mean you ate a diet high in conventional (non-organic) fruits and vegetables, lived near an agricultural pesticide application during pregnancy and/or lived in the path of a pesticide plume drift during pregnancy?” Dr. Furlong added.
Therefore to identify women who were exposed to pesticides during pregnancy, Dr. Furlong will use data from the Arizona Pesticides Use Registry; a list of all commercial pesticide applications in the state. So using birth certificates and data from Arizona Medicaid (AHCCCS) claim records, she aims to identify 4,000 children with ADHD and 16,000 “controls” without ADHD born between 1992 and 2012. From this information; Dr. Furlong and colleagues will be able to calculate an individual’s exposure to pesticides across her entire pregnancy.
Applications during pregnancy
“They where people were living from the address on the birth certificate. So if they lived near some of these applications during pregnancy, they will know when they exposed and how many pesticides they exposed to,” Dr. Furlong explained. Dr. Furlong and her collaborators will have access to the facility cores at the UA Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center (SWEHSC), but a collaborative and interdisciplinary research center; which is investigating the health effects of environmental agents and serving as a community resource.
Therefore Dr. Furlong’s study will expand on existing research on pesticide mixtures and neurodevelopment. This will be among the first to report associations between estimates of prenatal exposures from pesticide applications and ADHD in children. As Dr. Furlong’s mentor, Dr. Beamer will provide expertise in exposure science.