Chlorpyrifos and mental development in infants

In a study carried out in an inner city minority population in New York 254 children were evaluated during the first three years of their lives to assess the neurotoxicant effect of the organo-phosphate chlorpyrifos.

The results of the assessments were then compared with the levels of chlorpyrifos detected in the umbilical cord blood plasma at birth. Highly exposed children (chlorpyrifos levels greater than 6.17pg/g plasma) scored on average 6.5 points lower on the Bayley Psychomotor Development Index and 3.3 point lower on the Bayley Mental Development Index at three years compared to those with lower exposures.

The more highly exposed groups were also five times more likely to experience delays in psychomotor developments, 2.4 times more likely to experience delays in mental development and were also more likely to have attention and pervasive development disorder problems at three.

Chlorpyrifos has recently been banned for domestic use in the USA but is still allowed in the UK and Europe.

Rauh VA, Garfinkel R, Perera FP et al Impact of Prenatal Chlorpyrifos Exposure on Neurodevelopment in the First 3 Years of Life among Inner-City Children, 2006, Pediatrics, 118(6):1845-1859


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First Published in May 2007

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