A widely used pesticide – banned in homes but still commonly used on farms – appears to harm boys’ developing brains more than girls’, according to a new study of children in New York City. In boys, exposure to chlorpyrifos in the womb was associated with lower scores on short-term memory tests compared with girls exposed to similar amounts. The study is the first to find gender differences in how the insecticide harms prenatal development.
Scientists say the finding adds to evidence that boys’ brains may be more vulnerable to some chemical exposures. “There’s mounting evidence now from epidemiological studies that prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides, and chlorpyrifos in particular, may be associated with detriments with IQ in children,” said Kim Harley, an environmental epidemiologist with the University of California, Berkeley.
The 335 pairs of mothers and children were part of a large group of Latino and African American children from New York City’s low-income neighborhoods that have been studied by Columbia University scientists since they were born.
– Story by Brett Israel of Environmental Health News