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Chiropractic Research Review

Prenatal Dangers of Household Pesticides

Pesticides have been suspected risk factors for brain tumors, but are difficult to study epidemiologically. Most research has focused on nonspecific pesticide use. Children are most likely to be exposed, either prenatally or directly, in the home.

This follow-up study of pediatric brain tumors in Los Angeles County, California (part of the U.S.

West Coast childhood brain tumor study) investigated the risk of brain tumor development from household pesticide use from pregnancy to diagnosis.

Exposure data were collected on pesticides for termite control and for nuisance pests such as ants and roaches; lawn and garden insecticides; herbicides, fungicides and snail baits; lice treatments; products for flea/tick control; parental farm occupations and precautions taken when using pesticides. Social, demographic and personal characteristics of the mothers during pregnancy were compiledincluding such factors as smoking and use of medications.

In 442 subjects, the only exposure studied that produced significantly increased risk of pediatric brain tumor was prenatal exposure to flea/tick products, especially among children diagnosed at ages less than 5 years. Risk appeared to be primarily confined to sprays and foggers rather than shampoos and dips, and powders, dusts and collars. Prenatal risk was highest for mothers who prepared, applied or cleaned up flea/tick products themselves.

These results suggest that the fetal brain may be especially vulnerable to potentially carcinogenic effects of pesticides.

Further research needs to be done to pinpoint specific chemicals involved. but chiropractors should make their patients aware of the risks revealed by this study.

Pogoda JM, Preston-Martin S. Household pesticides and risk of pediatric brain tumors. Environmental Health Perspectives, Nov. 1997;105(11), pp1214-20.

Chiropractic Research Review

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