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Pesticide Exposure and Child Neurodevelopment

Conclusion Children are vulnerable to environmental toxicants, including pesticides, and therefore require special research and policy attention. In general, pesticides are associated with poor behavioral and neurological outcomes in young children, possibly due to their effect on neurotransmitters. Occupational health nurses and other health care providers can appropriately assess risk, conduct research, provide education, and support policies to address the potential impact of pesticides on children and adults.


  1. Widely used around the world, pesticides play an important role in protecting health, crops, and property. However, pesticides may also have detrimental effects on human health, with young children among the particularly vulnerable.

  2. Recent research suggests that even low levels of pesticide exposure can affect young children’s neurological and behavioral development. Evidence shows a link between pesticides and neonatal reflexes, psychomotor and mental development, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

  3. Implications include a need for improved risk assessment and health histories by clinicians, greater education at all levels, more common use of integrated pest management, and continued policy and regulatory strategies to mitigate the effects of and the need for pesticides.

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