Recent studies have linked a commonly used household pesticide, pyrethroid, with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and teen boys. Pyrethroid was found to have an association with the hyperactivity and impulsive characteristics of ADHD.
It is thought that pyrethroid is a safer pesticide, resulting in its growing use for pest control in residential areas and in agriculture. The pesticide that was most commonly used was organophosphate (organic compounds containing phosphate). Until 2001, when it was banned from residential use, Organophosphate had attained reports of health issues and adverse reflects, creating concern for its safety. The ban of organophosphate increased the use of pyrethroid in residential areas.
Pyrethroid is considered a safer, less toxic pesticide than organophosphate. Studies in male mice, however, showed an increase in hyperactivity and impulsive behaviors. There were also abnormalities in the dopamine system found, a neurochemical in the brain that is thought to be present in many activities that control ADHD.
Researchers studied data that was provided from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, The data consisted of a sample of 687 children between ages 8 and 15 in the years 2000-2001. This was the only cycle of study that had a diagnostic interview of children’s ADHD symptoms, as well as pyrethroid pesticide biomarkers. The pesticide measurements were gathered in a random urine sample, from half of the 8-11 year olds, and a third of the 12-15 year olds.
The researchers found that boys with detectable urinary 3-PBA (a biomarker of exposure to pyrethroids) were three times as likely to have ADHD, compared to boys with out the biomarker. Implusivity and hyperactivity increased by 50 percent in every 10 fold increase in 3-PBA levels in boys. These biomarkers and symptoms were not associated with girls.