Children exposed to higher levels of pesticide found on commercially grown fruit and vegetables in the United States were more likely to have attention deficit/hyper-activity disorder, according to a study published Monday.
Researchers in the United States and Canada studied data from 1,139 children aged between 8 and 15 and found that children with higher residue levels of pesticides known as organophosphates were roughly twice as likely to have ADHD, the study in the journal Pediatrics found.
"The present study adds to the accumulating evidence linking higher levels of pesticide exposure to adverse developmental outcomes," the study concluded.
Roughly 40 organophosphate pesticides are registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency for use in the United States, and around 73 million pounds of the pesticides were used in agricultural and residential settings in 2001, figures cited in the study said.
Although residential pesticide use is common, the National Academy of Sciences found that the major source of exposure for infants and children comes through the diet, the study added.
According to a 2008 report cited by the study, detectable levels of pesticides were found in a range of vegetables. A sample of produce tested found 28 percent of frozen blueberries, 20 percent of celery and 25 percent of strawberries contained traces of one organophospate, know as malathion.
Other types of pesticides were found in 27 percent of green beans, 17 percent of peaches, and eight percent of broccoli.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 4.5 million children aged between five and 17 had been diagnosed with ADHD up to 2006. Between three and seven percent of school-aged children in the United States suffer from the condition, figures show.