RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—All forms of childhood cancer can be devastating, but perhaps even more so considering that children may be contracting it from the pesticides sprayed on their favorite fruits. A new study in the journal Therapeutic Drug Monitoring finds that one of the most common childhood forms of the disease is associated with higher levels of pesticides. The good news: a few simple changes around your house can lower the risk.
THE DETAILS: Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common form of childhood cancer, attacking the body’s white blood cells and making it difficult for children to fight off infections. It’s generally diagnosed in kids between the ages of 3 and 7, and other than children with Down syndrome, who are 10 to 20 times more likely to contract ALL, there are no other identifiable risk factors.
The researchers for this study recruited 41 mothers whose children had been diagnosed with ALL as well as 71 mothers with healthy children, all of whom were from the Washington, DC, area. The average age of the children with ALL was 3 years old. The mothers filled out questionnaires asking about use of indoor pesticides, pet products, and lawn services, and how frequently they were exposed to these products currently, before conception, and during pregnancy. Both the mothers and children provided urine samples, which were sent off to a lab run by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for analysis.
Pesticide residues were detected in 99 percent of the urine samples, but the researchers found that levels of two specific pesticides were 25 percent higher in the children with ALL. Also, 33 percent of mothers of the children with ALL reported using pesticides, whereas only 19 percent of mothers in the healthy group did.