Pesticide exposure and neurodevelopment in children aged 6–9 years from Talamanca, Costa Rica

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Certain pesticides may affect children's neurodevelopment. We assessed whether pesticide exposure was associated with impaired neurobehavioral outcomes in children aged 6–9 years. We conducted a cross-sectional study in 140 children living near banana plantations and plantain farms in the Talamanca County, Costa Rica and assessed their neurobehavioral performance. Exposure was determined by analyzing urinary metabolites of chlorpyrifos (3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol, TCPy), mancozeb (ethylenethiourea, ETU), and pyrethroids (3-phenoxybenzoic acid, 3-PBA). Repeated urine samples were obtained for 36 children. We estimated associations of pesticide concentrations with neurobehavioral outcomes using multivariable linear and logistic regression models. Median (25th–75th percentiles) TCPy, ETU, and 3-PBA concentrations were 1.4 (.7–3.1), 1.2 (.7–3.0), and. 8 (.5–1.5) μg/L, respectively. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) ranged between. 32 and. 67. After adjustment for potential confounders, higher urinary TCPy concentrations were associated with poorer working memory in boys (n = 59) (β per 10-fold increase in TCPy concentrations = −7.5, 95% CI: −14.4, −.7); poorer visual motor coordination (β = −1.4, 95% CI: −2.7, −.1); increased prevalence of parent-reported cognitive problems/inattention (adjusted OR per 10-fold increase in urinary concentrations = 5.8, 95% CI: 1.6, 22.9), oppositional disorders (aOR = 3.9, 95% CI: 1.0, 16.0), and ADHD (aOR = 6.8, 95% CI: 1.8, 28.6), and; decreased ability to discriminate colors (aOR = 6.6, 95% CI: 1.6, 30.3; the higher the score the worse). Higher ETU concentrations were associated with poorer verbal learning outcomes (β = −7.0, 95% CI: −12.7, −1.3). Higher 3-PBA concentrations were associated with poorer processing speed scores, particularly in girls (β = −8.8, 95% CI: −16.1, −1.4). Our findings indicate that children living near banana and plantain plantations are exposed to pesticides that may affect their neurodevelopment, which for certain domains may differ between boys and girls. We recommend the implementation of measures to reduce pesticide exposure in children living nearby banana plantations.




van Wendel de Joode, B., Mora, A. M., Lindh, C. H., Hernández-Bonilla, D., Córdoba, L., Wesseling, C., … Mergler, D. (2016). Pesticide exposure and neurodevelopment in children aged 6–9 years from Talamanca, Costa Rica. Cortex, 85, 137–150.

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