By: Yassmine ElSayed
CAIRO, Nov. 25 (SEE) – So far, there are several diseases and disorders that scientists have no idea how to treat. Autism, for instance, is a puzzle for many scientists are researchers. Speculations are what available and parents are left with them in their bids to treat their little ones.
Recent researches have linked the neurodevelopmental disorders to genes and environmental conditions. But a clear-cut answer is not yet available.
In a recent scientific review and call to action published in ‘PLOS Medicine’, public health experts have found there is sufficient evidence that prenatal exposure to widely used insecticides known as organophosphates puts children at risk for neurodevelopmental disorders.
“There is compelling evidence that exposure of pregnant women to very low levels of organophosphate pesticides is associated with lower IQs and difficulties with learning, memory or attention in their children,” said lead author Irva Hertz-Picciotto, professor of public health sciences, director of the UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences Center and researcher with the UC Davis MIND Institute.
“Although a single organophosphate — chlorpyrifos — has been in the national spotlight, our review implicates the entire class of these compounds,” Hertz-Picciotto added.
Originally developed as nerve gases and weapons of war, organophosphates today are used to control insects at farms, golf courses, shopping malls and schools. They kill pests by blocking nerve signaling.
People can come into contact with these chemicals through the food they eat, the water they drink and the air they breathe.
Based on more than 30 epidemiologic studies and scores of experimental studies in animals and cell cultures, review authors believe the evidence is clear: Exposure to organophosphates before birth, even at levels currently considered safe, is associated with poorer cognitive, behavioral and social development.
“It should be no surprise that studies confirm that these chemicals alter brain development, since they were originally designed to adversely affect the central nervous system,” Hertz-Picciotto said.
“Acute poisoning is tragic, of course, however the studies we reviewed suggest that the effects of chronic, low-level exposures on brain functioning persist through childhood and into adolescence and may be lifelong, which also is tragic,” Hertz-Picciotto explained.