An insecticide that’s used on crops may affect children’s brain development. You may not know the name Chlorpyrifos, but you’ve probably encountered it.
In a new study, researchers took a close look at this insecticide, which is also called CPF. Although it was banned for home use more than a decade ago, farmers still rely on it heavily. The researchers included 20 grade-school children who had been exposed to higher levels of the insecticide during their mothers’ pregnancies. They compared them to 20 children who had been exposed to less of the insecticide before they were born.
All of the children were given IQ tests and had images taken of their brain using MRI. Higher levels of CPF during pregnancy had an effect on the children’s brain structure. These differences affected parts of the brain responsible for attention, language, social behavior and other important skills. The insecticide was also linked to lower IQ.
According to the researchers, many people may have levels of CPF in their blood that are even higher than what they found in their study.
Women and children who live in farming communities may encounter this insecticide around them. CPF can also get into people’s bodies when they eat fruits and vegetables covered in traces of the insecticide. To lessen this exposure, wash your fruits and veggies well.