Pesticides and child neurodevelopment

Curr Opin Pediatr. 2008 Apr;20(2):191-7. doi: 10.1097/MOP.0b013e3282f60a7d.


Purpose of review: This review summarizes the recent research on pesticide exposure and child neurobehavioral development with a focus on in-utero exposure to organochlorine and organophosphate pesticides.

Recent findings: Recent studies on in-utero exposure to the organochlorine pesticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane and its breakdown product, dichlorodiphenyldichloroethene, indicate that exposure is associated with poorer infant (6 months and older) and child neurodevelopment. Yet, the studies differ on the domain of development that is affected. Research on organophosphate pesticide exposure and neurodevelopment is limited but suggests some negative association of exposure and neurodevelopment at certain ages. Two reports agree that increased levels of organophosphate exposure in utero result in greater numbers of abnormal reflexes in neonates and studies in older infants and young children also point to a negative association with development. In young children (2-3 years) two separate studies observed an increase in maternally reported pervasive developmental disorder with increased levels of organophosphate exposure.

Summary: Given that the literature suggests a link between organochlorine and in-utero pesticide exposure and impaired child neurodevelopment, clinicians should educate parents about prevention of exposure, especially in populations living in agricultural areas or where household use is common.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Child Development / drug effects*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / toxicity
  • Nervous System / drug effects
  • Nervous System / growth & development*
  • Organophosphates / toxicity
  • Pesticides / toxicity*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Organophosphates
  • Pesticides