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Child & Adolescent Development: Overview

Insecticides Linked to Behavioral Issues in Children

HealthDay News

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FRIDAY, March 3, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Children exposed to a widely-used group of insecticides (pyrethroids) may be at increased risk for behavioral problems, according to a study published online March 1 in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

The study was led by Jean-Francois Viel, M.D., Ph.D., of the University Hospital in Rennes, France. His team measured hundreds of pregnant women's exposure to pyrethroids, as well as their children's exposure, by assessing levels of pyrethroid metabolites in their urine. At age 6, the children underwent behavioral assessments.

Viel's team found that higher levels of a certain pyrethroid-linked chemical in the urine of pregnant women was associated with an increased risk of internalizing behaviors in their children. The presence of one such chemical in children's urine was also associated with an increased risk of externalizing disorders -- defiant and disruptive behaviors. Another pyrethroid-linked chemical was associated with a lower risk of externalizing disorders. Overall, children with the highest levels of pyrethroid metabolites in their urine were about three times more likely to have abnormal behavior.

Pyrethroids may trigger behavioral problems by affecting neurochemical signaling in the brain, Viel's team suggested. "The current study suggests that exposure to certain pyrethroids at the low environmental doses encountered by the general public may be associated with behavioral disorders in children," the authors write.

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