Exposure to pesticide may cause brain injury in children

A study has linked exposure to a chemical, chlorpyrifos, to brain abnormalities in children. Chlorpyrifos is a component of some pesticides, such as Dursban made by chemical giant Dow Chemical.

The pesticide is mostly used in agricultural areas. A restriction preventing use in residential areas has been in place for the past 12 years. Despite the ban in residential areas, some pregnant women have been exposed to the chemical in agricultural areas or by ingesting food tainted by pesticide residue containing chlorpyrifos. The children of these women have the harmful effects of the chemical passed on to them while still in the womb.

One of the effects linked to chlorpyrifos in children exposed prenatally includes brain formation abnormalities. These abnormalities may be in the form of overgrown or smaller portions of a child’s brain. With multiple areas of the brain potentially affected, it is possible that exposed children could have deficits related to attention, language, emotions or control. In many circumstances, the resulting deficits can be overcome or lessened with extensive rehabilitation and medical treatment.

Many of these children and their families will be facing a lifetime of struggle as a result of their health issues due to pesticide exposure. These families may be able to hold companies that produce such hazardous materials liable for improperly exposing them to harmful side effects, whether through their action or inaction. Compensation for victims may include a monetary award to assist in health care costs, including rehabilitation.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, “Pesticide Exposure in Utero Linked to Brain Concerns,” Nicole Ostrow, Apr. 30, 2012.