Shorter Pregnancies, Too
Crops are commonly treated with pesticides called organophosphate, which are designed to kill insects by disrupting their brains and nervous systems. While its usage has declined in recent years, it remains the most commonly used insecticide in the U.S. New research shows that, unsurprisingly, it can lead to issues in humans, as well.
Researchers found babies exposed to the most organophosphates tended to be a third of a pound lighter than their peers who were exposed to less. Their mother's pregnancies were also shortened by three or four days. Earlier research on the same substance revealed it may be the culprit behind lower IQ scores and behavior problems in the affected children.
Conclusions of the study
The study's senior author, Dr. Bruce Lanphear, shared that even though the decrease in size and gestation are relatively small, it can be a serious problem when you consider populations as a whole. "What we see is subtle shifts that, across a whole population, could have dramatic effects on the premature rate," he said.
Other experts felt that while the research was conducted well, it couldn't conclusively state the pesticides are to blame.
What you can do
If you can, purchase organic produce, dairy and meat. These products will be free from chemicals and pesticides.
Another option is to grow your own fruits and vegetables. Gardening is good exercise, and it is satisfying to eat foods you've grown on your own.
If you buy conventional produce, scrub it thoroughly prior to eating. You can buy a special produce scrub or just use soap and water.
If you're on a tight budget, you could consider buying organic for the produce that has the most pesticide residue. Consult this list from the Environmental Working Group for your shopping needs.