Natural shield

Organic diet increases pesticide tolerance in children

Published: Tuesday 15 November 2005

an organic diet given to children provides a "dramatic and immediate protective effect" against exposures to two common organophosphorus (op) pesticides -- malathion and chlorpyrifos -- according to a us study.

Researchers from Emory University in Atlanta measured the exposure of the two pesticides in 23 children (3-11 years old) in the Seattle area by testing their urine. The participants were first monitored for three days when they were on conventional diet, and then for five days when they were given organic diets. The children were then reintroduced to their conventional foods and monitored for an additional seven days.

"Immediately after substituting organic food items for the children's normal diets, the concentration of op pesticides found in their bodies decreased substantially to non-detectable levels until the conventional diets were reintroduced," says Chensheng Lu, the lead researcher.

During the days when children consumed organic diets, most of their urine samples did not show any malathion metabolites. However, once the children returned to conventional diets, the average malathion metabolite concentration was found to be between five parts per billion (ppb) and 263 ppb. A similar trend was observed for chlorpyrifos -- the average concentration increased from one ppb during the organic diet days to six ppb when on conventional diets. The findings appeared in the online version of Environmental Health Perspectives on September 1, 2005.

Exposure to op pesticides is linked to neurological effects in animals and humans. "Although we did not collect health outcome data in this study, it is intuitive to assume that children whose diets consist of organic food items would have a lower probability of neurological health risks," says Lu.

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